The astronomical costs of insulin made by three pharma giants Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, who almost completely dominate the market have continued to increase, with no end in sight. Millions of people with diabetes in the U.S. have no option but to pay the high prices set by pharma companies because the alternative is death.
With each price increase, desperation, too, increases. And in mid-March of this year, just weeks after holding an ‘Insulin Pricing and Access Workshop’ with patient advocates, Eli Lilly again raised the price of their most lucrative insulins, Humalog and Humilin, by 7.8%.
The diabetes community has watched in agony as the prices of insulin have increased again and again. The list price of Humalog was $274.70 per a vial as of May 2017. That is a price increase of 1123% since June 1996. Insulin manufacturers work hard to keep the cost of insulin production a tightly-guarded secret, but we know that prices of insulin in the U.S. are likely set at hundreds of times higher than the amount it takes to make the drug.
People living with diabetes in the U.S. and around the world have died due to an inability to afford insulin. Physicians report seeing more and more insulin-deprived patients in crisis coming into emergency rooms. More advocates and politicians are becoming vocal about the need for affordable insulin as the problem hits the middle class harder. Senator Bernie Sanders asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the big three for price collusion, and the price increases have been called “price gouging, plain and simple” by Senator Jon Tester.
Frustration and even disgust about unaffordable insulin has been expressed in many ways: online, in meetings with these companies, in numerous blog posts, and more. The diabetes community as a whole has been talking to Lilly and others about these issues for a long time, so Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk know that people are outraged, suffering and dying because insulin costs too much.
Our concerns have not been taken seriously enough. Hosting forums with advocates or creating limited charity programs is not enough. Taking our concerns seriously means making insulin affordable and not taking advantage of desperate people. It means putting an end to price gouging because high prices are putting people in danger.
The advocacy group T1International believes that patient-led movements will be the strongest force in bringing about a change, which is why we are demonstrating in front of Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis on September 9th. People with diabetes are demanding better.
People with diabetes are asking Eli Lilly for three things:
- Be transparent about how much it costs to make one vial of Humalog insulin
- Be transparent about your profits from each vial
- Stop the immoral act of price-gouging and lower the price of insulin
We believe strongly that if people and their representatives demand it, these companies will provide transparency and lower prices because Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi’s business models depend on government regulations and bulk purchases of their products. This demonstration can amplify our cries and raise the public’s awareness of the exorbitant insulin prices.
The location of our partner organizations, People of Faith for Access to Medicines and Public Citizen in Indiana, makes Lilly’s headquarters a natural place for our first demonstration, but Novo Nordisk and Sanofi are just as much a part of the problem as Eli Lilly, and all three must be held accountable.
If you cannot attend the demonstration at Lilly, you can still take action. On September 8th, in solidarity with the protesters, we will also be holding an online day of action about insulin pricing – addressing all three players in the insulin market.
Are you planning to attend the Indiana demonstration or want to stay up to date on our plans? Join the Facebook event.