Coalition Forms To Challenge Pharmaceutical Companies On High Insulin Prices

The group will start with a protest outside the Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis.

A coalition of liberal and advocacy groups is kicking off a new campaign to shame companies and politicians into lowering the price of insulin with a protest outside Eli Lilly’s Indianapolis headquarters on Thursday.

The new campaign, Affordable Insulin NOW, is a seven-figure effort to highlight the skyrocketing price of insulin with digital ads and grassroots rallies and protests. In 2001, Eli Lilly’s best-selling Insulin drug, Humalog, cost $35. By 2014, it’s 500 percent more expensive, and Eli Lilly made more than $9 billion off diabetes medication in 2018. More than 30 million people in the United States live with diabetes and need insulin to combat it.

Affordable Insulin NOW will launch with a protest outside the Indianapolis headquarters of Eli Lilly.
Affordable Insulin NOW will launch with a protest outside the Indianapolis headquarters of Eli Lilly.

“For far too long, pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to rake in higher and higher profits while working families are struggling to afford the lifesaving drugs that they need—but enough is enough,” said Rosemary Enobakhare, the campaign’s director. “Together with advocates from across the country, we are demanding bold action to lower the cost of insulin and put patients over profits.”

The pharmaceutical industry’s power has become an increasingly important political issue, with polling regularly finding the high cost of prescription drugs to be among voters’ top concerns. The pharmaceutical industry has famously powerful lobbyists — Eli Lilly spent $1.4 million on lobbying alone in 2019, according to federal records.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in March found that 80% of Americans thought the price of prescription drugs was “unreasonable,” and only 1 in 4 trusted the industry to price their drugs fairly.

“People living with diabetes are tired of being price-gouged by pharmaceutical companies, and they are standing up and fighting back,” said Elizabeth Pfiester, the founder of T1 International, a member of the coalition. “More and more people are using their voice to demand transparency from insulin manufacturers and stand up for their fundamental human right to affordable insulin.”

Other groups contributing to the campaign include Health Care Voter, T1International, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Little Lobbyists, and Health Care for America Now.

CORRECTION: This article previously misstated the number of people with Type 1 diabetes as 30 million. That is the number of diabetics of both types.