WASHINGTON, D.C. — Patients For Affordable Drugs is pleased to announce November’s price fighting heroes: Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela and patient advocate Elizabeth Rowley. Cancela and Rowley have used their platforms as a lawmaker and patient advocate, respectively, to push for policies to lower insulin prices at a critical time for people living with diabetes.
While insulin has been around since the 1920s, the price of the vital drug nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. A vial of insulin that cost $30 in the late 1990s costs almost $300 today. Almost 30 million Americans live with diabetes, and 6 million need insulin to survive.Those who cannot afford insulin have told Patient For Affordable Drugs they are going hungry, going into debt, being hospitalized, and going blind as a result. Reports have also surfaced that patients stretching doses in an attempt to keep costs down have died.
“Insulin is almost 100 years old, and it’s inventors gave it to the world. Yet, three companies control the world’s supply and have tripled the price of insulin in lock step,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “This oligopoly is literally killing Americans. That’s why the work of Senator Cancela and Elizabeth Rowley is so critical.”
Cancela’s insulin transparency bill became law in June 2017 and subsequent Big Pharma efforts to fight the law failed. The new law means insulin manufacturers that increase list prices at certain thresholds must disclose to the state information about the costs of making and marketing the drugs. It also requires more transparency from pharmacy benefit managers and nonprofits that take money from the pharmaceutical industry. Cancela’s law became an example for other states working to implement similar legislation.
Elizabeth Rowley has channeled her experiences as a person living with Type 1 diabetes into global activism for her community, founding the nonprofit T1International to help assure patients have access to life-sustaining insulin, supplies, and medical care. T1International lifts up patient voices and serves as a “knowledge hub” to offer resources for patients and organizations worldwide. T1International does not accept any money from pharmaceutical corporations in order to maintain its independent voice. Under Rowley’s leadership, T1International has launched numerous campaigns to draw awareness to the high cost of insulin and diabetes supplies. The charity has also supported countless efforts to address the cost of insulin at the federal, state, and global levels. Elizabeth is a powerful voice in the drug pricing and insulin communities.
Patients For Affordable Drugs’ Price Fighting Heroes is a series highlighting advocates in the fight to lower prescription drug prices.
We will honor patients, private sector leaders, policy makers, and elected officials who are advocating for patients and fighting for lower drug prices. In doing so, we hope to encourage others to join the fight and continue their good work.
We plan to feature our heroes on our social media accounts and blog, lift up their stories in the media, and honor them at an event in 2019.
If you have someone you want to nominate as a hero, you can do so here.