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WV Legislation Aims to Slash Insulin Copays

The list price of insulin has nearly tripled since 2002, according to the American Diabetes Association. (Adobe stock)
The list price of insulin has nearly tripled since 2002, according to the American Diabetes Association. (Adobe stock)
February 27, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Concern over the soaring cost of prescription drugs has spurred the West Virginia Senate to consider a bill that would help diabetics pay for life-saving insulin.

House Bill 4543 would cap insurance copays at $25 for a 30-day supply, according to Savanna Lyons - co-executive director of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group. She says the Mountain State is home to more than 200,000 folks with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

"This bill would be especially helpful with Type 1 diabetes," says Lyons. "You have really been facing skyrocketing costs on your insulin and have high monthly costs, not just from purchasing insulin itself but also test strips and other equipment that they need to administer the drug."

The bill already has passed the House by a vote of 94 to 4. It is expected to face some opposition in the Senate from the chamber's large pharmaceutical lobby.

The cost of a one-month supply of Eli Lilly's Humalog insulin has ballooned by more than a 1,000% since 1996. Lyons says the cost to manufacture a month's worth of insulin is around $20.

This past year, she points out, she's come across folks in West Virginia who are paying more than $1,000 a month for the vital medicine.

"We're seeing companies make these outlandish profits," says Lyons. "And if our legislators stand with West Virginians, that means standing up to pharmaceutical companies and making sure that we value people over profits."

The West Virginia Legislature joins eight other states, including New York, Florida and Colorado, that have introduced insulin copay bills this year.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV