Underwood, Schakowsky, Guthrie, Kelly Introduce New Bipartisan Legislation to Lower Insulin Costs

December 17, 2019
Press Release
The Lower Insulin Costs Now Act would increase access to affordable, generic insulin options

WASHINGTON— Today, Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), and Mike Kelly (PA-16) introduced the bipartisan Lower Insulin Costs Now Act  to help combat the skyrocketing cost of insulin. More than 30 million Americans are living with type I or type II diabetes, including one in four seniors and a growing number of children. Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that can lead to premature death and exacerbate other chronic conditions. The Lower Insulin Costs Now Act would reduce the cost of insulin by helping lower-cost, generic insulin become available to consumers more quickly.

“I’ve heard from countless Illinois families about the hard decisions they have to make to afford their insulin, including rationing their supply or going without. It’s unacceptable—over 7 million Americans rely on insulin to survive,” Rep. Underwood said. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that will help make lower-cost, generic insulin available more quickly.”

“We have the names of people who have died because they couldn’t afford their insulin. That cannot stand in the United States, and that is why today Representatives Underwood, Guthrie, Kelly, and I are introducing the Lower Insulin Costs Now Act,” said Representative Schakowsky. “This bill will allow diabetes patients to access affordable, generic insulins more quickly and prevent Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi from continuing their price gouging oligopoly in the insulin market. We must pass this bill.”

“Insulin hasn’t changed in decades, so there is no reason why the price of it has suddenly spiked,” said Representative Guthrie, the Republican leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, which conducted an investigation into insulin pricing earlier this year. “Our investigation into the price of insulin found that list prices have climbed, hurting the uninsured and underinsured who are forced to pay the high cost. The Lower Insulin Costs Now Act will help bring generics to the market faster so patients are paying lower costs. I was proud to join Reps. Schakowsky, Underwood, and Kelly in introducing this commonsense legislation to make insulin more affordable.”

“As a vice-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus and a diabetic myself, I know that we are in the midst of an insulin affordability crisis. Too many of our friends, family members and neighbors are rationing their doses because they can’t afford regular refills of this life-saving drug. More insulin options are the key to lower prices, but that goal will face an unnecessary delay unless we change the law. That’s why I am a proud co-author of the Lower Insulin Costs Now Act, which will ensure that applications for new insulin products currently under review at the FDA will be able to move forward after March 23, 2020, when federal law transitions insulin to a new approval pathway. We can and must act to help the millions of Americans who cannot afford to wait for new insulin options,” said Representative Kelly.

In December 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance to clarify the implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, which could effectively block FDA approval of applications for lower-cost insulins. The guidance requires FDA to automatically reject pending applications for generic insulin that haven’t been approved by March 23, 2020. However, the Lower Insulin Costs Now Act would require the FDA to continue reviewing existing applications for generic insulin with the goal of bringing generic insulin to the pharmacy counter sooner.

The Lower Insulin Costs Now Act has received endorsements from the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, Children with Diabetes, Alliance for Retired Americans, and National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

"This common sense, nonpartisan legislation will speed up access to biosimilar insulin – offering more safe, effective treatment options and lower costs for people with diabetes," said Larry Smith, President of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council. 

"We commend sponsors for listening to the diabetes community and involving us in meaningful ways to address insulin access and affordability. Members of Congress can take a tangible step to reduce insulin costs tomorrow by ending the approval cliff today," said Stewart Perry, Vice Chair of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition