Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress has sent letters to three pharmaceutical companies and asked them to explain the root causes behind the rising costs of insulin. This is the latest move taken by Democrats as they are on an ongoing mission to control higher cost of healthcare in the USA.
Frank Pallone Jr. the chairman of Energy and Commerce Committee and Diana DeGette Chair of Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee sent letters to three drug makers which include Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly. The letter requested the above mentioned companies to provide information on the reasons behind rising insulin prices in the US as well as the impediments in providing affordable medicines. They are requested to submit their answers by February 13.
This is not the first time Democrats have targeted drug companies, earlier this month Elijah Cummings the House oversight Committee chairman sent letters to 12 pharmaceutical manufacturers asking detailed information on their drug pricing practices. Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk were the three among them.
The Democratic initiative is based on the concerns about the rising cost of drugs in USA. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reported that Americans spent nearly $333.4 billion on prescription drugs in 2017 alone. The annual spending on insulin by patients with Type 1 Diabetes doubled from $2900 in 2012 to $5700 in 2016. The Democrats in the house have blamed big pharmaceutical companies for selling drugs at higher prices in US than they do abroad. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the controlling the drug prices is on top of their agenda. The issue is of critical importance as Democrats recently regained a majority in the House while the country gears up for 2020 elections.
The Trump administration had vowed to lower the prescription drug prices. Recently President Trump claimed credit for saving $26 billion on prescription drug prices for American public. The Democratic leadership wants to make healthcare cost as their contending issue for 2020 elections as several polls confirmed that Americans regard it as their top concerns. Possible Democratic presidential nominee Senator Bernie Sanders has also introduced a bill proposing to allow pharmacies, patients and wholesalers to import cheaper drugs from Canada.
Palone and DeGette stated in their letters that when patients ration their insulin doses or go without it due to a lack of affordability, the consequences can be tragic for their health. They added in the letters that as the above mentioned companies are one of the few insulin manufacturers in the USA, they are the best suited to explain causes and offer solutions to curb insulin prices.
The companies confirmed that they have received the letter. The pharmaceutical companies have argued that lowering drug prices would affect their profitability negatively and reduce their ability to make future investments in new drug research and development which is a costly business.