Sen. Brown wants to cap insulin costs for all

LOWELLVILLE — After backing a bill that lowers the cost of insulin for those on Medicare to no more than $35 for vial, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said he wants to cap the cost of the drug for everyone.

But Brown, D-Cleveland, said during a Monday stop in Lowellville, “We’re not going to get that $35 extension with this Congress. The House of Representatives will never pass it.”

Brown added, “Interest groups have far too much influence in this government.”

Brown hailed the Inflation Reduction Act that capped the cost of insulin at $35 per vial during his visit to RC Outsourcing, a business that takes raw prescription drugs and refines them. That bill, approved in 2022, received no votes from Republicans in the House or Senate with only congressional Democrats supporting it.

“We’ve had more success against the drug companies in the last three to four years than we’ve ever had — at least since I’ve been around,” Brown said Monday.

Brown supported an unsuccessful amendment to the act that would have extended the $35 monthly cap on insulin to all Americans.

“After years of fighting against Big Pharma and the politicians who always do their lobbying, we took major steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Ohioans with Medicare,” Brown said. “It’s something I’ve been fighting for my whole career.”

A vial of insulin costs less than $10 yet some were paying as much as 15 times that, he said.

“Ohioans shouldn’t have to pay more because of pure and simple corporate greed,” Brown said.

About 500,000 Ohioans will save more than $150 million this year on the purchase of insulin and when the program is fully implemented next year, Brown said about 680,000 Ohioans will save more than $300 million.

“I’m fighting to fully expand the cap for all Ohioans,” he said. “It’s a big victory (for) Medicare beneficiaries, their prescription drug prices for insulin is capped at $35. We will keep fighting until that’s available to everybody whether they’re Medicare age or not.”

The bill also includes Medicare negotiations of 10 additional drugs starting in 2026 and increasing to more than 20 additional ones per year by 2029.

Joining Brown at Monday’s event were Hubbard retirees Mike and Kathleen Heinzer.

The couple said they paid about $3,000 to $3,500 every three months for insulin before the law changed. It’s now $35, they said.

“This has really helped us a lot,” Mike said. “Now the insurance company pretty much covers everything with the lower price that was negotiated by the government.”

Because of the expense, Heinzer said there were times he was taking half doses of insulin.

He wants to see the cost of other drugs be capped as they’re too expensive. He said two of the drugs his wife takes for a heart condition are among the 10 being negotiated for Medicare.

“It’s really difficult to work your whole life to retire and then once you retire, you have to rethink it all over again because of the cost of the drugs,” Kathleen said.

Ray Carlson, owner of RC Consulting, said, “I have seen the tactics used by the pharmaceutical industry which have inflated drug prices to beyond reasonable, restricted our citizens’ access to care and brought about the near destruction of independent” pharmacies.

He added “We will continue our fight against those who chose not to conduct business in a manner that ensures patient safety and wellness.”


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