Our Efforts to Make Insulin More Affordable

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By Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., Chief Mission Officer, JDRF

At JDRF, our core mission is advancing science to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes (T1D). Just as important is our work fighting for the needs of the T1D community. This, of course, includes access to insulin, and we do more than send letters to drug makers, health insurers, and policymakers asking they ensure that insulin is affordable for everyone. We’re taking action.

Earlier this year, we launched the #Coverage2Control campaign to pressure insurance companies to make insulin more affordable. We understand that the healthcare system is complex and many factors contribute to the rising price of insulin. T1D is fatal without insulin; the disease doesn’t stop if you can’t afford your medicine. Insulin simply must be available to people with T1D at a low, predictable out-of-pocket cost. 

More than 50,000 people agree with us. They’ve joined Coverage2Control, and signed our petition urging insurers to drive down out-of-pocket insulin costs. We are meeting with insurers and delivering your letters urging them to do their part.

We are also making it clear to insurers that people with T1D should have access to the insulins that work best for them. T1D is a unique disease that affects everyone differently. Evidence suggests that access to insulin analogues is important for people with T1D. We urge health plans and pharmacy benefit managers to ensure that no type or brand of insulin is exempt from a plan’s formulary.

Drug manufacturers need to do more to help, too. Although insulin makers offer discounts to pharmacy benefit managers and health insurance plans, the discounts are not always adequately passed along to those with T1D. JDRF urges manufacturers to work to improve the current flow of product and payments, so that the full value of negotiated rebates is directly passed on to people with diabetes at the point where they purchase their insulin.  This is particularly critical for people whose plans require coinsurance as a form of cost-sharing.

We also need continued innovation to develop superior insulins that help people to achieve better health outcomes.

As the leading global organization funding T1D research, JDRF is committed to the development of better and faster-acting insulins. While today’s insulin formulations save lives, it remains difficult to achieve the tight control over blood glucose that occurs naturally in people without diabetes. Managing blood sugar should be much easier. That’s why we remain significant funders of innovative treatments such as glucose responsive insulin and faster-acting insulin, as well as other medications that could improve blood-sugar management. We are working tirelessly to bring about the next generation of treatments for people living with T1D. Health insurers must ensure that those people can benefit from that innovation.

Any solution that works to ensure access to insulin and other medications to help improve glucose control must not stymie the development of newer and better insulins.

JDRF’s advocacy efforts have helped the T1D community time and again. This includes getting insurance coverage for continuous glucose monitoring, securing regulatory approval for artificial pancreas systems, and getting hundreds of millions in funding for research and trials.

We’ve succeeded before and we will again.

You can read more about our views and agenda to ensure insulin affordability here.