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This representative's bill would cap insulin prices: 'Putting profits over people is deadly'

This representative's bill would cap insulin prices: 'Putting profits over people is deadly'

Texas House Rep James Talarico introduced House Bill No. 40 to fight the skyrocketing prices of insulin in his state.

In April this year, Texas state House Rep James Talarico introduced House Bill No. 40, a piece of legislation that would regulate the sale of insulin across the state. The bill, which would place a cap on insulin prices in the state, has been praised for its "bipartisan, bicameral effort." If passed, House Bill No. 40 would make Texas the 16th state in the country to mandate a stabilized price for insulin. At present, insulin is highly overpriced in the market in comparison to countries with access to universal healthcare as well as similar price control mechanisms. According to Talarico, the price of insulin in the United States has skyrocketed by 1,200% while manufacturing costs have remained relatively constant. In a moving thread posted to Twitter, Rep Talarico shared his own experience of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes—an experience that motivated him to introduce this bill in the state legislature, Your Basin reports.



 

"Three years ago I almost slipped into a coma and died," he wrote on the social media platform. "I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I paid $684 for my first 30-day supply of insulin. Some pay over $1,000 a month. Many die without it. Today I introduced legislation to cap the price of insulin at $50 a month." In 2018, the then-28-year-old decided to walk the entire length of his district and hold town halls along the way when running for the Texas House. As a relatively healthy individual, he claimed he was not concerned about a 25-mile walk. Unfortunately, halfway through the journey, he began to feel "nauseous and fatigued." Talarico proceeded to vomit in the bathroom prior to a town hall in Hutto.



 

The Representative stated, "I figured I was severely dehydrated. So I changed shirts, drank some water, and continued the walk. I threw up four more times over the last 12 miles, but somehow I finished... I don’t know how I did it." After completing the walk, he thought he just needed a good night's rest. However, he ended up sleeping a total of 36 hours straight. As a result, he was rushed to the emergency room, where he was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This type, unlike type 2 diabetes, is an autoimmune disease. The cause of the former type is unknown, but medical professionals believe genetics play a role. "All I know is my pancreas abruptly stopped working," Talarico recalled. "I was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a fatal condition that ends in coma and death without insulin."



 

He ultimately spent five grueling days in the ICU. Now, he has a glucose monitor on his arm and takes shots of insulin every day. In fact, he was able to successfully complete his 25-mile journey a second time without any trouble, thanks to insulin. But gaining access to the lifesaving drug is a challenge. Representative Talarico shared, "Even with health insurance, I paid $684 for my first 30-day supply of insulin—the medicine I need to live. I had to put it on a credit card. Now that I am a legislator, I have excellent state health insurance to cover my insulin. Every Texan should be entitled to the same." Therefore, he introduced House Bill No. 40.



 

Among other things, the legislation will tackle the three main reasons behind the skyrocketing prices of insulin: first, the market monopoly—only three companies control the $27 billion global insulin market; second, the lack of a generic alternative to name-brand insulin; and third, the absence of competition (Talarico explained, "The big three companies surround their insulin patent with lots of other patents to make the original patent last longer, a process known as 'evergreening'"). You can read the bill in its entirety here, and if you support it, call your local Texas legislator and urge them to endorse HB 40 and Senate Bill 827. "This is strong bipartisan legislation, but it is only a step toward our eventual goal: guaranteed healthcare," Representative Talarico affirmed. "Insulin should be free because insulin is a human right."



 

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