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Sen. Smith, Senate Dems demand information on rising insulin costs

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., and eight other Democratic senators have sent a letter to U.S. insulin producers asking for an explanation for why their prices continue to rise.

Spending on insulin nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to a January study from the Healthcare Cost Institute. Meanwhile, there was little change in overall use of the drug.

In three separate letters sent to Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Company, and Sanofi — the top three U.S. insulin makers — Democratic Senators demanded the companies provide insulin price information for customers on Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial health insurance, as well as uninsured customers.

The members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions are also asking insulin makers what they are doing with extra revenue from price hikes and how much prices are expected to rise in the next three years.

"In the last four or five years, the price has almost doubled. We could fix that by forcing the big drug manufacturers to justify these price increases," said Smith, who plans to reintroduce her Affordable Medications Act bill.

That bill includes provisions that would allow re-importation of drugs from Canada to the U.S. to take advantage of lower prices.