Affordable Insulin Initiative Takes a Step Forward

In the June of 2016, the Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) asked Board Member Alan L. Yatvin to chair the ADA’s Insulin Access Workgroup to address the problem of access to affordable insulin.  Charged with helping to develop and inform ADA policy, the Workgroup was made up of members and officers of the Board of Directors.  Working with then-Chief Advocacy Officer, Shereen Arent, the Workgroup developed a Resolution on Insulin Affordability which was approved by the Board on November 17, 2016.

Insulin Isn’t a LuxuryYatvin then worked with ADA staff to build and publicize an on-line petition based on the resolution, seeking transparency in the insulin supply chain and affordable insulin.  The petition also called on Congress to hold hearings to identify the reasons for the dramatic increases in insulin prices and to act to ensure all people who need insulin have affordable access to this lifesaving medication.  The Stand up for Affordable Insulin Petition, has garnered over 300 thousand signatures and is the ADA’s most successful petition.

The ADA then convened a successor multi-disciplinary working group in the spring of 2017.  This working group, chaired by ADA Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer, Will Cefalu, MD, included Yatvin and then-ADA President of Science and Medicine, Alvin C. Powers, MD, along with experts in healthcare economics, the pharmaceutical industry, health policy, and healthcare delivery.  The work was supported by highly knowledgeable ADA staff.1 Of particular note are:   LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs & Advocacy; Meghan Riley, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs; and Krista Maier, Vice President, Public Policy & Strategic Alliances.

Over the course of a year, the Working Group reviewed available public information on insulin prices and convened numerous meetings with stakeholders in the insulin supply chain, in an effort to understand that supply chain and the reasons for increases in the price of insulin.  On May 8, 2018 the Working Group’s white paper, Insulin Access and Affordability Working Group: Conclusions and Recommendations, was published in the on-line edition of Diabetes Care and will appear in the journal’s June edition.

On that same date, Dr. Cefalu appeared before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, at a hearing, titled Insulin Access and Affordability: The Rising Cost of Treatment. Dr. Cefalu gave testimony about the Working Group’s process and conclusions. He was joined by patient advocates Paul Grant from Maine and Lois Ondik from Pennsylvania as well as Jeremy Greene, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins University Department of the History of Medicine.  The hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website.

Almost 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.  Six million of those Americans use insulin.  Between 2002 and 2013, the average price of insulin has nearly tripled.  Popper & Yatvin partner Alan  L. Yatvin is proud to have contributed to the ADA’s efforts to shed light on insulin pricing and to find ways to insure affordable insulin for all who need it.

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