Americans pay up to 92% more for insulin

WASHINGTON (CBS) More than 7 million Americans depend on insulin to stabilize their blood sugar. A new report shows many of them are struggling to pay for medication that would cost far less outside the U.S.

Bronte Fullner was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 8. Now 13, she uses an insulin pump to keep her blood sugar at safe levels.

“It’s so critical that I have insulin at all times,” Fullner said.

She joined Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings to release the findings of a congressional committee staff report exploring the skyrocketing cost of diabetes medications.

“For seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in my district, the cost of a widely used insulin would be 92 percent lower at Australian prices, 82 percent lower at UK prices,” Rep. Cummings said.

Cummings says that’s in part because Medicare is not allowed to negotiate directly with drugmakers.

After years of hefty price increases, some patients are skipping or rationing their medication.

“They will tell me they’re not buying their insulin because they need to buy their food,” said Dr. Sherita Hill Golden of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Lawmakers have held a series of hearings on the issue, with both parties demanding answers from pharmaceutical companies.

“If you think you, you know, can just outtalk us without any transparency, without any accountability, I just want you to know your days are numbered,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois.

Drugmakers blame the troubled health care system, plus the cost of innovation. Some have made moves to lower prices but frustrated lawmakers say it’s a life and death problem that needs a better cure.

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