Currently, the average cost for a month’s supply of insulin ranges from about $600 to $900 per month, depending on the type and amount of insulin needed. These costs have risen drastically over the last several years—up 45 percent between 2014 and 2017 alone and a whopping 700 percent over the last 20 years. The ridiculous price hikes have left many diabetic patients to ration insulin in an attempt to continue to afford to stay alive—all the while risking their health and lives. Others have turned to crossing international borders to find cheaper drugs to keep them alive.
Several U.S. states have been looking into enacting legislation against high insulin prices, but Colorado is the first to turn a bill into a law. Governor Jared Polis signed the HB19-1216 bill on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019, officially capping insulin copays at $100 per month per patient, regardless of the amount of insulin needed.
“We declare that the days of insulin price gouging are over in Colorado,” said Polis.
State representative Dylan Roberts, who sponsored the bill, has a special connection to this issue. He lost his brother, Murphy, three years ago. Murphy lived with type 1 diabetes and was able to pay for his insulin with the help of insurance, but the burden was felt by the whole family. Roberts hopes the new law will allow people with diabetes to spend their money on other important things.
“My little brother, Murphy, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 10 years old,” Roberts said. “Just looking at the price tag of those insulin vials coming in, I knew even at that age how big of a burden that could be.”
“(This law is) to honor Murphy’s memory, and of course for the 400,000 Coloradans who live with diabetes every day,” said Governor Polis.
Under the new law, Attorney General Phil Wiser is required to investigate “the business practices, organization, pricing, and data of pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, insurance carriers, and any other entity that influences insulin costs.” A follow-up report will help identify issues and possible solutions to these problems.
“I think he’d be really proud,” Roberts said of his brother. “He would be really happy. It is too bad he couldn’t be here to see it, but it means a lot that the governor said his name before he signed it.”
Check out the video below to see the governor sign this important bill into law.
The hope is that this law will function as a template for new bills in other states, paving the way to affordable insulin for people throughout the country. It may also encourage lawmakers to enact legislation against unfair prices of other prescription drugs.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?