Elon Musk Schools Bernie Sanders

The Billionaire seized an opportunity to rekindle the beef with the influential politician.

Elon Musk has his list of favorite enemies. 

In the automotive industry, of course, there is General Motors  (GM) – Get Free Report.

The billionaire still hasn’t recovered from Democratic President Joe Biden’s assertion that the Detroit automaker was the dominant force in transforming the auto industry toward cleaner, less polluting vehicles. 

“In the auto industry, Detroit is leading the world in electric vehicles. You know how critical it is?” Biden said in November 2021.

For more than a year, Biden snubbed Musk and Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report in favor of Detroit’s Big Three. Yet, in the photo finish of the electric vehicle market, Tesla is currently the only American automaker. The company faces real competition only from Chinese groups like BYD and European groups like Volkswagen  (VLKAF) . Musk, therefore, never misses an opportunity to attack General Motors.

“Teslas are the most made-in-USA vehicles,” the tech tycoon said last July.

Musk v. AOC

The mogul also likes to laugh at the setbacks of short-sellers, those financiers who bet on the stock market collapse of a company. One of his favorites is David Einhorn, the head of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital, whose bets against Tesla turned into a financial nightmare. Musk even had shorts delivered to him.

In addition, Musk enjoys fighting with some politicians, especially the progressives of the Democratic Party. There are, of course, the regular spats with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Just recently, the congresswoman accused the entrepreneur, the new owner of Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Free Report, of having partially sanctioned her account, because she had criticized him. To which Musk replied that one shouldn’t believe everything she said.

“Hot take: not everything AOC says is 💯 accurate,” he said on November 5, using the lawmaker’s initials.

Musk has also just rekindled his good enmity with the influential U.S. Senator, Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The billionaire took advantage of a criticism from the progressive lawmaker against the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly  (LLY) – Get Free Report, to lecture his political rival.

‘Question Is Complex’

It all started with a message of apology posted by Eli Lilly, after a fake Twitter account of the group claimed that, from now on, the insulin sold by the group would be free. Eli Lilly apologized and stated that this was not true. 

“We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account. Our official Twitter account is @LillyPad,” Eli Lilly said on November 10.

Sanders, who challenged Biden for the Democratic nomination during the 2020 presidential election, then took the opportunity to criticize the company, which he accused of having increased the price of the essential hormone for many diabetics outrageously in recent years.

“Let’s be clear. Eli Lilly should apologize for increasing the price of insulin by over 1,200% since 1996 to $275 while it costs less than $10 to manufacture,” he lambasted on November 11. “The inventors of insulin sold their patents in 1923 for $1 to save lives, not to make Eli Lilly’s CEO obscenely rich.”

The opportunity to criticize the Senator was too good for Musk to pass up. The tech tycoon reminded the politician that things were more complicated than that. 

According to Musk, there are several parameters, including innovation, that go into determining the price of insulin, which Sanders seems to forget or not know. In passing, he fact-checked Sanders, pointing out that he had made a mistake in his dates. 

Musk also used a Twitter feature he’s been promoting for a few days. This is CommunityNotes, formerly Birdwatch, which allows users to provide context to a post that they believe is misleading. Musk linked to a Time Magazine article of 2021 about Walmart’s initiative to offer its own brand of low-cost analog insulin, “a man-made variety that’s designed to better mimic the body’s own blood-sugar production and regulation.”

“Full answer to insulin price question is complex,” the serial entrepreneur said. “Short answer is that original insulin, discovered in 1921 (not 1923), is inexpensive, costing as little as $25. New, higher efficacy analog variants of insulin are more expensive. @CommunityNotes.”

Prices Are Higher in the United States

Insulin is the main treatment for diabetes, a chronic disease. It is vital for some patients, especially those with Type 1 diabetes. In the United States, there are approximately 34 million people with some form of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Nearly 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. 

The price of insulin per milliliter has increased dramatically in recent years, which has also increased the annual cost of treatment for each patient. A Rand Corporation study, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and posted by a Twitter user following Musk’s message, found that insulin prices are very high in the United States compared to other wealthy countries.

The study compares prices between the United States and the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which has 38 members.

“Compared with other countries, and in each insulin category, the United States had dramatically higher prices,” the study found. “The average U.S. manufacturer price per standard unit across all insulins was $98.70, compared with $6.94 in Australia, $12.00 in Canada, $7.52 in the United Kingdom, and $8.81 across all non-U.S. OECD countries combined.”

It added that: “Average prices in the United States and most comparison countries were higher for analog insulins than for human insulin. Average prices in the United States were highest for rapid acting insulin (at $119.36 per standard unit, versus $8.19 in non-U.S. OECD countries) and lowest for intermediate-acting insulin (at $73.56 per standard unit, versus $5.98 in non-U.S.OECD countries).”

The rise in prices is explained by the arrival of analog insulin, which costs more than conventional insulin, but also brings more benefits to patients, experts say.

Today, more than twenty types of insulin are sold in the United States. These hormones include Sanofi’s Lantus, Novo Nordisk’s Levemir, and Ely Lilly’s Humulin.

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