Kentucky AG sues insulin makers over pricing

Kentucky AG sues insulin makers over pricing
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Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) sued three major insulin manufacturers Monday, accusing them of violating the state’s consumer protection law.

Beshear said Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have increased the cost of insulin products at least 10 times since 2008, with the average now sitting at almost $300. At the same time, according to Beshear, production costs for insulin have remained low — less than $7 per vial, in most cases.

For example, the lawsuit says, Sanofi’s Apidra insulin for injection saw a 311 percent increase from December 2010 to January 2019, while Eli Lilly’s Humalog Pen increased from $235.80 per package in November 2011 to $530.40 per package in May 2017. 

The three companies named in the lawsuit have a 96 percent market share for insulin products, according to Beshear.

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“It is truly heartbreaking that Kentuckians are suffering, sometimes risking life and limb, because they cannot afford their medications,” said Beshear. “The outrageous actions of these drug companies is a big reason we all pay too much for prescription drugs and I am insisting they pay up for putting profits ahead of our Kentucky families.”

The lawsuit says uninsured Kentuckians, those with high-deductible health plans and Medicare Part D recipients are the hit the hardest by the companies’ business practices. They "must pay all or at least a portion of an artificially inflated price for their life-sustaining insulin," according to the lawsuit. Kentucky has the seventh-highest diabetes rate in the nation, according to Beshear.

More than 15 percent of Kentuckians have diabetes, while more than 35 percent of adults in the state have above-average blood glucose levels.

"We take this matter seriously, and are currently examining the allegations made in the complaint," a Novo Nordisk spokesperson told The Hill. "Because this is ongoing litigation, we can’t provide further comment."

The other two drug manufacturers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.