Controlling the price of insulin could take an act of magic — or a MAGIC Act, in the estimation of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly.
This week, Kelly, R-16, Butler, introduced House Resolution 4244, the Market Access for Generic Insulin Competition, abbreviated as MAGIC, Act. Kelly, a vice-chair of the House of Representatives Diabetes Caucus, said he has worked to untangle regulatory obstacles to developing generic and effective insulin.
“This is not just important,” Kelly said. “It’s critical.”
The five-term congressman says he hasn’t gotten an answer from regulators in President Donald Trump’s administration.
“When you ask the question why, you get the deer-in-the-headlights look and they say ‘because,’ “ Kelly said.
Kelly’s bill would establish a permanent path for Food and Drug Administration approval of generic insulin products. Current law imposes a permanent ban on development of generic insulin products.
There are three companies approved to produce and sell insulin in the United States. Eli Lilly produces Humalog, Sanofi manufactures Apidra and Novo Nordisk makes Novolog.
The price of all three products almost doubled between 2012 and 2016, and Kelly estimates that insulin costs have gone up about 600 percent since 2001.
Kelly said developing a generic alternative would impose market forces and drive down prices even for the brand-name types of insulin.
“Increased competition and increased quality will decrease the cost,” he said.
Andrew Eisenberger, a spokesman for Kelly, said Wednesday that he is aware of at least one company that, with a permanently open approval window, would be able to develop a generic insulin alternative.
Kelly said it’s too early to say what support the bill has, but the Diabetes Caucus, with 300 members, is the largest panel in the House of Representatives.
A self-described conservative and legislative ally of Trump, Kelly said the effort to make insulin more affordable transcends politics. An estimated 30 million — almost 10 percent — of Americans have diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think we should be on the same side and that is to make sure you keep Americans, human beings, healthy,” he said.