Catonsville, MD – Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, released a Committee Staff Report on the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. More than 30 million people in the United States, including more than one in four seniors, have diabetes. Patients with diabetes rely on prescription drugs, including insulin, to help manage their conditions.
“For people with diabetes, access to their medications is a matter of life and death. In spite of this, drug companies have repeatedly increased the price of their diabetes drugs, including insulin, over the past twenty years. Tragically, these high prices have led many individuals to ration or stop taking their medications,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. “We cannot sit back as diabetes patients are compromising their health, and even dying, due to the high price of their medications. It’s time to take action to rein in the out-of-control costs of insulin and other diabetes drugs.”
“I’m grateful to Congressman Cummings for his leadership on this issue,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “Our seniors deserve the right to have affordable medication. We need to do all we can to ensure we are protecting their ability to live a healthy and active life.”
“I’m extremely grateful for Congressman Cummings and his work highlighting the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs,” said Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk. “It’s simply outrageous, disgusting and unacceptable that the high prices of insulin are keeping people from getting the treatment they critically need which has caused tragic deaths, more costly long-term illness, and increased the overall health care costs for the entire system. Enough is enough and we need to radically change the way diabetes drugs are priced as many other countries already have.”
“We have made enormous strides in recent years in caring for patients with diabetes,” said Sherita Golden, M.D., M.H.S., Endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. “But those advances don’t benefit patients who can’t afford their medicine. I commend Congressman Cummings for his leadership and commitment to making treatment affordable and accessible for people who need it.”
“We commend Rep. Elijah Cummings for all his terrific leadership on the prescription drug affordability issue,” said Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. “We in Maryland are doing our part to help in this effort with the landmark Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation which passed in the 2019 General Assembly Session. This measure would make Maryland the first state in the nation to so directly address making prescriptions drugs more affordable for our people.”
The report found that:
There are approximately 42,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
In Maryland’s 7th District, the 50 most popular brand-name diabetes medications cost the Medicare program and beneficiaries nearly $21 million in 2016.
For seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland’s 7th District, the cost of a widely-used insulin would be 92 percent lower at Australian prices, 88 percent lower at UK prices, and 87 percent lower at Canadian prices.”
There are 39,000 uninsured residents in Maryland’s 7th District who may bear the entire burden of their high prescription drug prices.
For a one-month supply of that brand of insulin, uninsured patients in Maryland’s 7th District pay 23 times as much as patients in Australia, 16 times as much as patients in the United Kingdom, and 14 times as much as patients in Canada.
A full copy of the report can be found here.
In January, Congressman Cummings introduced the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, to allow the federal government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. As Chairman, Congressman Cummings launched an investigation to determine why drug companies—including insulin makers—are increasing prices so dramatically and what they are doing with the proceeds.
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.