U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa today released the following statement regarding an announcement from Cigna (Express Scripts) to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin prescriptions for some patients.
“Any time out-of-pocket prescription drug costs are lowered, that’s good news for patients. But it’s unclear why this is only happening now. Why couldn’t this have been done years ago? It shouldn’t take bad press and congressional scrutiny to get health plans, their pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical companies to arrive at a fair price for a drug that’s been on the market for nearly a century. It’s also unclear why this is only being done to decrease what patients pay for insulin. If this is a viable option for one prescription drug, helping patients with other inexplicably high-priced drugs should also be considered.
“More also needs to be done to make sure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for excessively-priced drugs under Medicare and Medicaid and that these patients aren’t hit with high out-of-pocket costs. If a certain arrangement makes sense for patients with private insurance, there’s no good reason taxpayers shouldn’t get the same deal. As I’ve said time and again, pharmaceutical companies, health plans and pharmacy benefit managers need to stop pointing fingers at each other and focus on helping patients and protecting taxpayers. This is an instance where they came together to make insulin more affordable for those who rely on it. It shouldn’t be a one-time thing. We need to see more of it.”
Grassley and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden of Oregon yesterday sent three letters to leading PBMs, including one to Cigna, regarding their role in the skyrocketing cost of insulin in the United States.
Last month, Grassley and Wyden sent letters to Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, the three largest insulin manufacturers in the United States, kicking off their bipartisan investigation into insulin prices.