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Welch Unveils Legislation to Bring Down Soaring Insulin Prices

February 20, 2019
Press Release

BURLINGTON – At a press conference today at Community Health Centers of Burlington, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) unveiled legislation he has authored to provide relief from skyrocketing insulin prices to diabetes patients in Vermont and across the country. Welch's initiative authorizes the importation of safe, low-cost insulin from Canada and other qualified countries.

Welch was joined at the press conference by two Vermont diabetes patients and Dr. Joel Schnure, UVM Medical Center’s Medical Director of Endocrinology and Diabetes.

“Prices for insulin have gone through the roof and are hammering diabetes patients who cannot live without this life-saving medicine yet cannot afford to pay for it," Welch said. "This commonsense legislation bypasses big Pharma's pricing monopoly by making available to patients safe, lower-cost insulin.” 

In the last ten years alone, insulin prices in the United States have tripled, forcing patients to ration it or skip the medicine altogether. Yet, while many Americans with diabetes struggle to cope the burden of ever-increasing prices, the insulin they need is often available in other countries for a fraction of the price. 

Welch’s legislation makes lower cost insulin available by allowing patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import safe, low-cost insulin from Canada and other leading countries. Initially, the legislation authorizes importation from just Canada, but after two years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is required to expand importation to all countries that it deems to have comparable safety standards to the United States. The bill requires the FDA to certify and inspect all foreign exporters of insulin. Patients would still need a prescription and would still be eligible for insurance coverage.

Rep. Welch is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-chair of the House Affordable Prescription Drug Task Force.