Brad Watts Brad Watts
Vice President, Patents and Innovation Policy, Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 29, 2024


Incredible innovative treatments are currently on the market to treat Type 2 diabetes, one of the most serious chronic conditions, which impacts an estimated 35 million Americans.  

But contrary to what some critics may say, America’s innovative life science companies are advancing diabetes care by developing more effective treatments to help people better manage their condition so that they don’t develop serious complications, including damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.  

Companies are able to invest in the research and development needed to bring medicines to patients by using the free enterprise system to create competition in the marketplace and keep costs down. 

Fill me in: Effective glucose and weight management are key aspects of diabetes care, but only 50% of people with diabetes in the United States achieve their glucose level goals (measured by the HbA1c test). Glucagon-like peptide 1 drugs (GLP-1) have been proven to reduce a person’s A1c by approximately .8 to 1.6%. This is a tremendous innovation for an unpredictable disease that can cause complications like amputations, heart failure, gum disease, and vision loss.  

The amazing science and discovery behind GLP-1 began in the early 1980s when scientists discovered that GLP-1 could lower blood sugar levels in people. While GLP-1s were originally developed to help those living with diabetes, they have also been shown to reduce weight significantly, which has positive impacts on patients. Obesity alone increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 243%, hypertension by 113%, and coronary heart disease by 69%.  

Why it matters: Diabetes has a major impact on national economies by reducing productivity and life expectancy while increasing disability and health care costs.  

People with diagnosed diabetes now account for one of every four health care dollars spent in the U.S.

The Economic Report, which is published every five years by the American Diabetes Association, found that the total annual cost of diabetes in 2022 was $412.9 billion, including $306.6 billion in direct medical costs and $106.3 billion in indirect costs.  

Price controls won’t work and aren’t necessary: Unfortunately, just as millions of Americans are benefiting from these lifesaving and life-altering diabetic treatments, some members of Congress and activist groups are pushing price control policies that will kill future life-science innovation and undermine the ability of patients to access the newest treatments and cures.  

Research from the Chamber shows that in countries with strict price control regimes, patients receive access to fewer cures and have longer wait times than their peers in free market and free enterprise systems like the United States. For the millions of American patients with diabetes, the idea of waiting longer for fewer cures and treatments is simply unacceptable.   

Free enterprise creates options and keeps pricing competitive: However, America’s dynamic free enterprise system creates the opportunity for competition among companies, leading to new medicines and treatments and competitive prices for American patients.  

Together, a combination of innovator, biosimilar, and generic drugs create an ecosystem of competitive pricing for patients treating obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Instead of relying on failed policies like artificial and arbitrary price controls, policymakers should instead defend, protect, and promote America’s free market system so that multiple products from multiple companies can create an ecosystem that drives down costs and promotes innovation.  

Bottom line: As millions of Americans struggle with diabetes, life science innovators are tackling the issue with innovative treatments for patients. The government should get out of the way and let the market drive that innovation. Doing so will not only lead to the newest generation of treatments and cures but will also lead to more options and choices, thereby lowering costs for patients and taxpayers.

About the authors

Brad Watts

Brad Watts

Brad Watts is the Vice President for Patents and Innovation Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). He works with U.S. Chamber members to foster a political, legal, and economic environment where innovators and creators can invest in the next big thing for the benefit of Americans and the world.

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