Open Letter to Indiana Chamber: Awarding Eli Lilly CEO Regardless of Unethical Practices
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An Open Letter Addressed to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce
I am shocked and dismayed that CEO Dave Ricks has received the Ogletree Deakins Business Leader of the Year. By awarding Ricks you have dismissed the unethical actions of Eli Lilly and Company under his leadership.
There is currently an insulin price crisis in the United States. One that has existed for years and continues to be exacerbated by insulin manufactures, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurance companies. Eli Lilly and Company is a primary cause of this crisis.
During Ricks’ time at Eli Lilly, the price for one vial of Humalog, a popular analog insulin manufactured by Eli Lilly, increased by 1,480% (from $21 in 1999 to $332 in 2019 per vial). Many people living with insulin-dependent diabetes use two to four vials per month. This insulin price-hike is accompanied by no change to the insulin analog formula.
I am a person living with Type 1 Diabetes. This means that my body does not produce insulin and I rely on injected insulin every day. Eli Lilly and Co. is one of three major companies that produce insulin in the U.S. Insulin is as necessary as oxygen. Every human being requires insulin to live, but for those of us with insulin-dependent diabetes, we have to pay exorbitant prices for this vital hormone.
Our community has seen tragedy and death because of the high cost of insulin. Some have turned to online black-markets to share insulin. Some have tried Patient Assistance Programs only to be denied, confused, or left helpless. Some have sacrificed their careers, savings, and rent, all to afford insulin. Some have rationed their insulin causing life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis.
On June 27, 2017 the diabetes community lost Alec Smith, a 26 year-old man who was unable to afford his insulin. Out of this tragedy and hearts of advocates came a law in his honor, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act of Minnesota. Under this Act, Minnesota residents can access a 30-day emergency supply of insulin at the pharmacy for no more than $35. Hours before the legislation took effect on July 1, 2020, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, filed a lawsuit against Minnesota.
Dave Ricks serves on the board and is the chairman-elect of the PhRMA. Both PhRMA and Eli Lilly use lawsuits, patent abuse, and lobbying power to silence the efforts of patient advocates. Under the leadership of Ricks, they take advantage of our vulnerable community simply because they can.
Words from the Diabetes Community
The company I work for was ranked #1 Best Place to Work in Indiana for 2020. Despite this I struggle to afford the Eli Lilly insulin that is manufactured in my hometown. Therefore, I am required to obtain Eli Lilly insulin through advocates online willing to supply me. When I cannot find insulin through my online diabetic community, I purchase Eli Lilly insulin from Canada at a fraction of the price. Because of this I do not feel that my life is valued by David Ricks, Eli Lilly or my local community.
- Tommy LeStourgeon
During my pregnancy I lost my job which resulted in me losing my insurance. Because I was pregnant though I was able to get on State insurance and was taken care of medically. 4 months after My son’s birth my state insurance expired and my husband made too much to get back on state insurance but not enough for us as a family to afford health insurance that covered my diabetic needs. I was desperate. I had insulin but not enough to last more than 6 months. And no way could I afford $1500 a month on inulin. So Was forced to ration. This led to numerous DKA where I almost lost my life as well as Irreversible damage done to my eyes and kidneys. The fact that a drug that I need to be able to survive costs so much that I have to choose between feeding my son, being a present mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend is absolutely disgusting and sad. People are losing their lives over this. Eli Lilly should take this into consideration and lower their prices so this STOPS happening
- Natalie Swanson
I have struggled to survive due to the business practices of Eli Lilly under David Ricks leadership. I have had to buy insulin from Canada for $35 per vial shipped to me from Turkey. The insulin I received was the same Eli Lilly insulin that at my neighborhood pharmacy blocks from my house was almost $300 per vial. I have had to ration my insulin to make it last as long as I could. This leads to not controlling my blood sugar causing further complications that impact my life and finances as well. I ask as someone who lives with the struggle to survive daily due to David Ricks unethical business practices that you give this award to someone who shows Hoosier hospitality in their business practices towards the people not only of Indiana, but the world.
- Craig Miller from Greenwood, IN
I am deeply disturbed to see the Indiana Chamber of Commerce celebrate CEO Dave Ricks regardless of his company’s unethical business practices. Furthermore, I expect you to hold the executives accountable for the actions of their companies. As a member of the diabetes community I ask the following of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce:
- Acknowledge the grievances of the diabetes community.
- Meet with an independent patient-led advocate coalition to discuss the unethical business practices of Eli Lilly and Company.
- Urge Dave Ricks and PhRMA to drop the lawsuit against the state of Minnesota.
- Urge Dave Ricks and Eli Lilly and Co. to substantially lower the list price of insulin.
- Revoke this award.
To conclude, I will leave you with the words of Sir Frederick Banting, a true leader who pioneered the extraction of insulin and sold its patent for $1. “Insulin belongs to the world, not to me.”
Type 1 Diabetic
Please share this letter and petition with the hashtags #insulin4all and #ProtectAlecsBill.
Those living with insulin-dependent diabetes (or caretakers) are welcome to reach out to me via social media to include your story and name in this open letter.
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