Many Americans with diabetes are still having a hard time paying for their insulin, even though Medicare phased out copays this month.
With a population of 39 million, California has now become the largest state to sue major companies in the insulin market, accusing them of illegally driving up the price of treatment and causing a public health and financial crisis.
State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the lawsuit late last week, saying the companies had engaged in “illegal, unfair and deceptive practices” in violation of California competition laws.
Describing the US insulin market as “an oligarchy”, Bonta targeted the three pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, which control 90 percent of the world’s insulin supply, and sued the state are administrators. Benefit Pharmacy, CVS Health, Express Scripts and OptumRx, which manage 80 percent of the US insulin market.
About 38 million Americans have diabetes, about 11 percent of the US population, and about eight million people, including nearly all of those with type 1 diabetes and many with type 2 diabetes, require insulin treatment. Well-insured patients pay nothing from $20 to $35 per month for insulin, while uninsured or high-deductible plans can be charged hundreds of dollars per month.