Insulin Drug Prices Are on the Rise and States Want Answers


Several state attorneys general are asking pointed questions about why insulin prices are rising.

Several states are demanding answers about the rising cost of insulin drug prices, according to a recent article by Kaiser Health News.

The article states that at least five states and a federal prosecutor have launched probes into why insulin prices are "soaring" and have asked insulin manufacturers and those in the pharmaceutical industry for answers. The investigations target companies including Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and CVS Health.

The price of insulin has been rising steadily for the last decade.

One study that analyzed individual and prescription-level data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey reported that the mean price per milliliter of insulin increased 197% from 2002 to 2013. According to the findings of the study led by Xinyang Hua, the mean price was $4.34 per milliliter in 2002, but by 2013 it had grown to $12.92 per milliliter.

"The estimated expenditure per patient for insulin in the United States in 2013 was greater than all other antihyperglycemic medications combined," Hua and his colleagues wrote.

States now want to know why. Corporate financial filings show that attorney generals in New Mexico, Washington, and Minnesota have all issued civil investigative demands to examine the issue and collect evidence related to insulin pricing, according to the Kaiser Health News article. Information uncovered during these investigations will also be shared with attorneys general in Florida and California.

"They appear to be looking into potentially anticompetitive business dealings that critics have leveled at this more than $20 billion niche market of the pharmaceutical industry, according to analysts and court filings reviewed by Kaiser Health News," the article states.

In addition to the state civil investigative demands, there have been class action lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who have been hit with the significant increases.

According to the article, civil investigative demands are typically sealed from the public and may include companies who have done nothing wrong, but they can be a tool to help provide answers to the questions surrounding insulin prices and their impact on the public.

Data from the CDC reported that, in 2011, 17.8% of adult patients with diabetes took insulin only, while an additional 13.0% took insulin and pills to treat their disease.

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