Photo credit adriaticfoto/Shutterstock Photo credit adriaticfoto/Shutterstock

Insulin can cost families thousands of dollars a year, forcing some to ration or forgo the lifesaving medication. A new plan would slash the cost.


Need to Know

  • Insulin prices have tripled over the last decade. 
  • A new bill with wide-sweeping support from Democrats and Republicans would cut the cost of insulin to $50 a month.
  • One of every 10 people in Michigan has diabetes. 

LANSING—In the new year, the state of Michigan has launched an all-out offensive on insulin prices that have soared in recent years. Michigan officials are aiming to reduce the cost of the hormone, which regulates blood sugar and is used by people with diabetes, through legal and legislative action.

Insulin prices have long been a concern for Michigan families. Some families choose to drive across country lines to get insulin for a fraction of the price in Canada, where government-imposed price controls limit the cost of the medication.

“As the mom of an 11-year-old son with Type 1 Diabetes, I stay awake at night worried about how our family will afford his insulin and medical supplies into the future,” Fawn Morris, from Lenox, Michigan, said.

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Making insulin more affordable was a highlight of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State speech last month. 

According to the office of the governor, Michigan families can pay up to $3,600 a year for the medication and nearly $100 a vial. Those who cannot afford US prices may ration it or not take the medication. More than one of every 10 Michiganders has diabetes, and a significant number rely on insulin.

A new bipartisan bill would negate the need for cross-country trips. Introduced by state Rep. Sara Cambensy, a Democrat, and supported by Rep. Bronna Kahle, a Republican, the proposed legislation could lower prices in Michigan by 80%. 

The bill, which would cap the monthly cost of insulin at $50, has already passed the Michigan House of Representative with broad-sweeping support.

If it ultimately passes the Senate, the bill would be sent to Whitmer’s desk. She has indicated that she would sign it.

“Too many Michiganders are forced to ration insulin or forgo it, putting their lives at risk,” Whitmer said. 

Meanwhile, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has sought permission to investigate Eli Lilly and Co., an Indiana-based drugmaker that’s one of the top three insulin producers in the US. The price of insulin tripled over the last decade, drawing scrutiny. 

Nessel filed a request with an Ingham County judge to subpoena the company and interview employees under consumer protection laws, though higher courts have ruled against similar action before, her request notes. She wants to investigate to see what role the company played in the medicine’s rapid price increase.

“No Michigander should have to face that kind of cost for life-saving medicine,” Nessel said. “While drug companies profit off of people’s health, they also benefit from a current market in which they control the pricing. Enough is enough.”