SAINT PAUL, Minn. — On Wednesday, pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly announced its decision to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 monthly per recipient. The company’s move follows federal legislation to limit the maximum copay for people enrolled in Medicare at the same monthly amount. In Minnesota, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act of 2020 ensured that patients could receive at least one month’s worth of their insulin for a maximum of $35, with a long-term limit of $50 out-of-pocket per 90 days for eligible recipients.
“Price-gouging by drug companies costs more than just money,” said Nicole Smith-Holt, whose son Alec died when he stopped taking insulin he could no longer afford. “It costs lives. While I welcome this announcement, a move by just one company is a small step toward keeping this life-saving drug affordable. Patients and families will continue to speak out in favor of federal and state legislation to keep the price of medications like insulin affordable.”
“The announcement from Eli Lilly comes after years of advocacy from patients and family members like Nicole Smith-Holt,” said Senator Erin Murphy (DFL St. Paul). “Profit-driven corporations should not get in the way of Minnesotans receiving the care they need. It’s really expensive to be sick, and the people who need medications most face financial barriers that jeopardize their health. Ensuring access to essential drug supplies will save money for Minnesota and its people. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do. I am committed to our continued work to make medicines and drug supplies affordable to all Minnesotans.”
“This is an incredible victory for Americans with diabetes, and it wouldn’t be possible without the courageous leadership of Nicole Smith-Holt and fierce insulin advocates across the country,” said Representative Mike Howard, chief author of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. “Now is not the time to let up. This news should only fuel our push to cap insulin prices in all 50 states so that we lock these prices in for Americans who need insulin to survive. The past several years have shown us that we cannot trust insulin manufacturers to do the right thing. Lasting change will only come through persistent public pressure and legislative action.”