Democrats celebrate as Eli Lilly announces $35 insulin cap for all customers

WASHINGTON — Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly will cap the price of insulin at $35 out-of-pocket for all customers, not just those on Medicare.

The announcement was celebrated by Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who have sponsored legislation that would have forced drug companies to do just that. A $35 cap on insulin costs just for people on Medicare was included in the Inflation Reduction Act that passed last year with every Democrat in favor and every GOP lawmaker opposed.

Warnock and McBath have continued to push for additional reductions to insulin costs for millions of Americans who rely on the medication to control blood sugar. In his State of the Union address last month, President Joe Biden also called on Congress to approve McBath’s and Warnock’s proposals.

“There are millions of other Americans who do not — are not on Medicare, including 200,000 young people with Type 1 diabetes who need these insulin — need this insulin to stay alive,” the president said. “Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s cap the cost of insulin for everybody at $35.”

Eli Lilly’s announcement represents a voluntary decision to heed the call.

“While the current healthcare system provides access to insulin for most people with diabetes, it still does not provide affordable insulin for everyone and that needs to change,” Chairman and CEO David Ricks said in a news release on the company’s website. “The aggressive price cuts we’re announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes.”

McBath, who has spent years working on the issue, noted that the announcement could affect up to 40 million Americans.

“This decision is the direct result of the work we did here in Congress to make insulin affordable for every senior on Medicare, and I am proud that this decision today will expand on our program that caps monthly out-of-pocket costs to $35 a month or less,” the Marietta Democrat said in a statement.

Warnock sponsored similar legislation in the Senate after his election in 2021 and pushed to get language included as lawmakers negotiated the package that eventually became the Inflation Reduction Act.

“After months of efforts to make insulin affordable for everyone who needs it, I applaud Eli Lilly’s announcement to cap insulin costs, a nod to my legislation,” the Democrat from Atlanta said in a statement. “I am going to keep working in Congress towards bipartisan solutions to make this one-hundred-year-old drug affordable for everyone.”

Eli Lilly said it will take months to fully implement insulin price cuts, but other changes will be immediate, including the $35 cap on out-of-pocket costs for customers who have private insurance and obtain medication through pharmacies.

People who don’t have insurance can download savings cards that also guarantee they receive their monthly doses for $35.