Decision Maker Response

Nicholas X. Duran’s response

Oct 10, 2019 — Last month I proudly filed HB 109 Prescription Insulin Drugs. This legislation would require individual and group health-insurance policies and health maintenance organizations to cap customers’ monthly cost-sharing obligations for insulin prescriptions at $100 for a 30-day supply of insulin. As the Democrats’ most senior member of the Florida House’s comprehensive health care committee, as well as the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, I have decided to take on the challenge of addressing skyrocketing prescription insulin drug prices.

In Florida, it is estimated that over 2.4 million people have diabetes and over 5.8 million have pre-diabetes. Being able to afford prescription insulin is crucial for these individuals to properly treat their medical condition. In 1996, the price for a 1-month supply of insulin was $21. As of 2001, that exact vial’s price increased by $14 to $35. Now, according to Truven Health Analytics, that vial is said to be around $275. That is a 1200% increase on the original price.

This astounding rise in the costs of necessary medication has led many patients to forego their prescription insulin because they simply cannot afford it. A peer-reviewed study found that one in four individuals living with diabetes began trying to ‘stretch out’ their doses of insulin by taking less than they were prescribed or even failing to fill prescriptions due to their inordinate costs. In the United States, these cost increases have put patients at risk and even have led to loss of life.

In the 2019 Session, the Florida Legislature passed a new law that would allow the state to establish Canadian and international drug-importation programs that require federal approval. However, because current federal law excludes biologic drugs like insulin, it appears Florida’s new program may not even benefit patients who need insulin. Another issue is the length of time it will take for U.S. Health & Human Services to finalize the rules on the importation program. This is a lengthy (can be several years) process. Many people do not have time so we are taking direct action now.