In response to the COVID-19 pandemic creating more affordability concerns for people dependent on insulin, Eli Lilly recently announced a limit to $35/month on insulin co-pays.
While this policy will help more people access insulin, it is “too little too late” from Lilly, said RCA co-chair Dr. Vikas Saini. “The truth is that Lilly’s move simply restores insulin pricing to original levels after years of shameful profiteering that has led to pain and loss for many Americans,” said Saini. In the past three years, at least ten people have died from rationing their insulin, because they could not afford it.
“…Lilly’s move simply restores insulin pricing to original levels after years of shameful profiteering that has led to pain and loss for many Americans.”
Even this co-pay limit will not be enough for many patients. “COVID-19 has triggered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and even a $35 co-pay is going to be unaffordable for many people,” said Saini.
Further, Lilly’s program is not automatic, but requires people to apply, and patients already covered under government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid are not eligible. Several RCA members have pointed out that this program is little more than a “PR move” to improve the company’s reputation in the face of crisis.
Insulin is just one of many medications that are priced too high to be accessible to all patients who need them. “There should be no barriers between patients in need and the essential medicines that keep them alive.” said Saini. “Legislators should require that insurance companies, PBMs and pharma manufacturers roll back their inflated prices of the past decade. They must cooperate to make these medications free at the point of care for patients, with fair prices charged to commercial and government insurance companies. Because in the end, all of us are paying through our insurance premiums.”