June 17, 2019
Press Release
Cost of diabetes medication in NY-25 is up to 21 times higher than the cost of the same drugs in Australia


(Rochester, NY) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle condemned the soaring and artificial price of prescription diabetes medication in the greater Rochester area. A recent report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, commissioned by Rep. Morelle, found that the prices of these life-saving drugs, which thousands of community members rely upon, are significantly higher than the same drugs in other countries – in some cases, up to 21 times more expensive.

“Over the past two decades, the cost of prescription diabetes drugs like Insulin have artificially skyrocketed by more than tenfold,” said Rep. Joe Morelle. “This price gouging causes patients to ration or even stop taking life-saving medication altogether. For one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world to allow this to continue is nothing less than shameful. We must take action to reign in these inflated costs that place a significant and dangerous burden on American families.”

“For millions of Americans, including myself, insulin is a literally a matter of life and death,” said Angela Civiletti, a Rochester community member who has Type 1 diabetes. “I rely on this life-saving drug every day to manage my diabetes. There is no alternative. I constantly struggle to afford my insulin because the price continues to skyrocket without any reason. I plead with Congress: Act to address this issue and let our voices be heard.”

More than 30 million people in the United States, including more than one in four seniors, have diabetes – a life-threatening disease that is associated with serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, and blindness. Patients with diabetes rely on prescription drugs, including insulin, to help manage their conditions. Studies show that manufactures could charge as little as $7 to $11 per month for insulin and still make a profit – yet prices for these drugs continue to rise to over $450 per month.

The Committee Staff Report found that:

  • There are approximately 24,000 Medicare beneficiaries in New York’s 25th Congressional District who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • In the district, the 50 most popular diabetes medications cost the Medicare program and beneficiaries approximately $24.7 million in 2016.
  • For seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in New York’s 25th District, the cost of a widely-used insulin would be 74 percent lower at Australian prices, 70 percent lower at UK prices, and 52 percent lower at Canadian prices.
  • There are over 26,000 uninsured residents in New York’s 25th District who may bear the entire burden of their high prescription drug prices.
  • For a one-month supply of a popular brand of insulin, uninsured patients in New York’s 25th District pay 21 times the cost in Australia, 14 times more than they would in the United Kingdom, and 12 times more than they would in Canada.

“At Highland Family Medicine and at clinics across the country, the rising cost of prescription drugs – including those for diabetes management – is having a great impact on many of our patients.  Because diabetes is a chronic illness that often requires a lifetime of daily medication and lifestyle management, the affordability of drugs like insulin is often what keeps patients healthy and out of the hospital.  We are grateful to Rep. Morelle for bringing attention to this critical issue,” said Dr. Mathew Devine, D.O., Associate Medical Director, Highland Family Medicine.

“Prescription drug costs have gone through the roof, leaving many older Americans with no choice but rationing that puts their own health at risk,” said Beth Finkel, State Director, AARP New York. “This has to stop, and AARP strongly supports authorizing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug makers, capping consumers’ out-of-pocket costs, banning deals that delay the availability of cheaper generics, and cracking down on drug price gouging – all part of our nationwide #StopRxGreed campaign. AARP thanks Congressman Morelle for calling attention to the persistent problem of exorbitant prescription drug prices.”

"Older adults, who struggle to pay for insulin, have to make a life and death decision every day. It is simply not right,” said Ann Marie Cook, President/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester. “It is impossible for people on fixed incomes to absorb the ever-increasing cost of insulin in their limited household budget. I applaud Congressman Morelle for strongly advocating for older adults and for ensuring that people in our community have the medications they need to live.”

“This is just one example of how profoundly out-of-touch our healthcare system currently is,” continued Rep. Morelle. “Congress has taken action to address and lower these exorbitant drug prices by passing legislation like H.R. 1884, but there is still so much to be done. I will continue to support and advance policies that help make healthcare more affordable for everyday Americans.”


See report below: