Pharmaceutical companies must be stopped.

The prices for insulin and EpiPen continue to increase, making life-saving medicines too expensive for people who depend on them to afford.

According to a Vox article, 30 million Americans rely on insulin, and by 2016, the average price of insulin rose to $450 per month. The article stated that one in four people with diabetes are forced to skip doses because they can’t afford the medicine.

Lawmakers need to do everything they can to force drug companies to reduce costs. For people with diabetes, insulin is not optional. For those who experience severe allergic reactions, not being able to afford an EpiPen is a life-and-death matter.

State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) recently sponsored a bill that requires health insurance companies to offer generic alternatives for EpiPens and insulin auto-injectors. EpiPen is the brand name of a device that delivers the drug epinephrine. The bill passed the state senate and will hopefully also pass in the House of Representatives.

U.S. senators Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), have also been investigating the problem and sending letters to drug companies asking them to account for their outrageous price hikes, according to the Vox article.

While I applaud these efforts, more legislation is needed at both the state and federal level to force drug companies to do the right thing. This is a bipartisan issue that every lawmaker should be concerned about.

Insulin and EpiPens are not new drugs. Insulin was discovered in 1923. Drug makers create new and “improved” versions just so they can hike up the price. The truth is the old versions of these drugs work just fine. These companies don’t need to raise their prices this steeply in order to make a profit. Greed is the driving factor behind these decisions.

Stricter regulation is needed. Obviously, these companies can’t be counted on to set reasonable prices. Also, generic versions of these drugs must be made available.

People’s lives depend on these drugs, so we must take immediate action. Already, we have started hearing about people who have died after they could no longer afford to buy the insulin they needed.

No one should ever be forced into that situation. Making life-saving medicines absurdly expensive is wrong. I encourage everyone to write to your representatives to let them know this is an issued that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Brynn Twait can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or perureporter@newstrib.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_Peru.

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Brynn Twait works as a reporter covering the City of Peru. She can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or perureporter@newstrib.com.

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