The following is my experience with drug prices over the past couple of years.
I am, and have been since 2012, enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan. These prices are the total cost of the drugs, not just my copay. 1000mg Metformin, cost $0.495 per pill in February 2017 and $0.008 per pill in July 2019. 5mg Glipizide, $0.40 per pill in March 2017 and $0.016 per pill in August 2019. 20/12.5 mg Lisinopril/HCTZ, $0.036 per pill in March 2017 and $0.019 per pill in August 2019. 10mg Atorvastatin, $0.168 per pill in March 2017 and $0.022 per pill in August 2019. 1000mg Omega 3 (expensive fish oil), $1.32/pill in May 2017 and $0.229 per pill in December 2018. 134mg micronized fenofibrate, $1.47 per pill in May 2017 and $0.074 in August 2019. Insulin is more difficult to compare since I use more now and have switched from Toujeo, made by a French company, to Tresiba, made by a Danish company. In May 2016 Toujeo cost $34.18 per day; in May 2019 Tresiba cost $48.41 per day.
The price of insulin is worthy of complaint. In the U.S., a three-pen box of Tresiba costs $622.38. In Canada, the same box costs less than $200. Tresiba is made by a Danish company, Nova Nordisk. It was approved for use in the EU nations in January 2013 and by the U.S. FDA in September 2015. When it was introduced into the UK in 2013 the UK’s National Health Service negotiated a price of $8.86/day for the same dosage that Medicare allows $48.41/day.
Among Medicare Part D enrollees, average per capita out-of-pocket spending on insulin increased from $324 to $588 between 2007 and 2016. Meanwhile, average annual total Medicare Part D spending on insulin products per user increased from $862 to $3,949. Total Medicare Part D spending on insulin was $13.3 billion in 2017, up from $1.4 billion in 2007.
Lilly is the only manufacturer of insulin products in the U.S. Do U.S. politicians and bureaucrats have a vested interest in propping up U.S. insulin prices to help Lilly’s balance sheet? What other reason could there be for paying three-five times what other nations pay?