Senators press to cap insulin costs

Mayor Robert DaSilva introduces Senators (from left) Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed at the East Providence Senior Center May 9, 2022 at a news conference to discuss capping insulin costs. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News


Rhode Island’s two Democratic U.S. senators called for a cap on the cost of insulin on Monday.

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse criticized drug companies for raising the cost of the life-saving medication used by diabetics to control their blood sugar levels, saying the drug, discovered nearly a century ago has not undergone any significant development to justify increasing costs in the intervening years.

“Insulin prices over the last several years have doubled,” said Reed in an interview after a news conference at the East Providence Senior Citizens Center.

“For seniors living on a budget, they oftentimes find themselves having to choose between filling their medications, paying their electric bill or buying their groceries to fill their bellies,” said Laura Jones, Senior Services Director at the East Providence Senior Center.

“This is a medication that was developed in 1923,” Reed said. The developers, the doctors sold the patent for a dollar. So, the drug companies are just using their market power, their monopoly power to raise prices.”

He credited Rhode Island for enacting a law capping the cost of insulin at $40 per month, and said Medicaid should follow suit, suggesting a cap of $35 per month.

“A national approach would be better than a local approach, and we think $35 a month is more than adequate compensation for insulin,” Reed said.

Reed and Whitehouse are endorsing a set of bill that would help contain rising drug costs, including allowing drug imports from Canada, curbing some tax breaks for drug makers and encouraging transparency for drug makers.