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N.J. considers capping monthly insulin prices at $50 for patients

A man injects insulin as part of his treatment for diabetes. (Bigstock)

A man injects insulin as part of his treatment for diabetes. (Bigstock)

For Aubrey Navarro-Conway, who has Type 1 diabetes, the constant question of how she will be able to afford insulin made her desperate and self-conscious.

“It took me a long time to understand that the only people who should be embarrassed are the pharmaceutical companies that are getting rich off the desperation of me and patients like me,” she said.

Across the country, diabetes patients are struggling to afford the skyrocketing cost of insulin, which a recent study in JAMA found tripled between 2002 and 2013. Federal and state legislators are scrambling for solutions to the problem now affecting millions of Americans

On Thursday, New Jersey became the latest state to enter the fray, as lawmakers in the state Assembly considered a bill that would cap what insurers can charge for insulin at $50 for a monthly supply.

Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, D-Middlesex, who sponsored the legislation, said that it was the right move for patients, and that he was not worried about the financial implications for drugmakers.

“I have to say that I appreciate all the stuff that the pharmaceutical companies put into all of their drugs, all the research, for not just here but across the world. I think that’s admirable,” Karabinchak said. “Do I think that this is going to adversely affect their bottom line? Absolutely not.”

Other lawmakers worried about the unintended consequence of the move. Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, suggested that insurance companies would increase premiums to compensate for the lost revenue.

“And when you do that,” Webber said, “you’re going to raise the prices on everybody in the state, including those people who can barely afford to pay for health insurance now and who don’t have diabetes.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

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