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A Government Guide to Keeping Insulin Unaffordable: 3 Easy Steps to Hogtie a Market

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Desperate patients pay up because they have nowhere else to go—and their distress is deliberate and designed.

By Laura Williams                                          @fee.org

If you’ve heard anything about insulin lately, it’s probably been palpable outrage over soaring prescription prices or dubious optimism about Eli Lilly’s recent release of its new version that, at half the price, will cost an arm or a leg but not both.

“The inventors of insulin sold its patent for $1. Eli Lilly now charges $360 a month for the drug and made $3.2 billion in profits last year.

Meanwhile, Americans must sell all their possessions to get the insulin they need.

We’re going to take on the greed of the drug industry. https://t.co/vtWsN4cXeR

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 15, 2019

Amid this cesspool of indignant commentary, you’re likely to hear one of the biggest misconceptions around: that markets, competition, or capitalism have failed to respond to the patient’s need in creating more affordable insulin. What you won’t hear is how pharma giants have enlisted the FDA, the DEA, the FBI, customs and border security, and a dozen other taxpayer-funded regulatory and enforcement agencies to protect their profit margins.

If anything, the draconian constraints demonstrate just how diligently market competition brings down prices and how hamstrung and hogtied competition must be before it stops performing its essential functions.

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