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February 15, 2019

What We're Reading: Insulin Costs Double; PhRMA's Record Spending; Causes of Liver Transplants

AJMC Staff
Between 2012 and 2016, insulin costs for patients nearly doubled while utilization remained flat; the pharmaceutical industry's lead lobbying group spent a record amount in 2018; and alcohol-associated liver disease has surpassed hepatitis C as the top cause of liver transplants. 

Insulin Costs Double

Between 2012 and 2016, insulin costs for patients nearly doubled despite utilization remaining flat. According to STAT, patients with type 1 diabetes spent $5705 on insulin in 2016 compared with $2864 in 2012. The price of all insulin products increased during the 4-year period and out-of-pocket costs nearly doubled from $0.13 per unit to $0.25 per unit. During the same period, average daily insulin use increased just 3%.

PhRMA Spends Record Amount on Lobbying

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s leading lobby group, revealed that it spent a record $27.5 million on lobbying in 2018 amid a slew of drug pricing reform, reported Bloomberg. Last year’s spending was $1.4 million more than in 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was introduced. In the fourth quarter of 2018, PhRMA spent more than $6 million to lobby Congress and the Trump administration, but its biggest quarter came in the first 3 months of the year, with the group spending nearly $10 million.

Alcohol Leading Cause of Liver Transplant

Alcohol-associated liver disease has surpassed hepatitis C as the top reason for liver transplants in the United States, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Looking at nearly 33,000 patients, researchers found that the proportion of liver transplants for alcohol-associated liver disease increased from 24.2% in 2002 to 27.2% in 2010 and 36.7% in 2016. According to the researchers, one reason for the shift could be that hepatitis C has become easier to treat with drugs.

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