Beshear Files Lawsuit over Surging Insulin Prices

May 14, 2019

Kentucky’s attorney general is taking the nation’s three largest insulin manufacturers to court over rising drug prices. 

Beshear has filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court against Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, and Novo Nordisk.  The three defendants control 96 percent of the world’s insulin market.  

Beshear says the companies have increased the price of their insulin products at least ten times while production costs have remained low, usually less than seven dollars per vial.  The wholesale price has jumped to nearly $300 and the price paid by some Kentuckians can exceed $1,000 a month.

Beshear says pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars while some diabetics have risked their lives going without or rationing medication they struggle to afford.

"Whether to put food on the table, pay their power bill, or get that necessary medicine they deserve to live; no one should have to make those decisions," Beshear stated in a news conference.

Inflated insulin prices strike Kentucky hard.  The state has the seventh highest rate of diabetes in the nation with 15 percent of the population considered diabetic.  Beshear is seeking restitution and civil penalties under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

The advocacy group KOI#insulin4all has been advocating for action on the rising price of insulin in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana since March of 2018.

"We are grateful that Beshear listened to Kentuckians demanding action and accountability on inflated insulin prices," said founder Angela Lautner. "We hope this is a first step towards long-term relief that people with diabetes so desperately need."

In addition to lowering prices, Lautner and other advocates want insulin manufacturers to be transparent about how much it costs to make insulin and how much they earn from the drug.

Kentucky state lawmakers this year failed to pass a drug price transparency bill.  A legislative task force has been examining some of the issues surrounding the affordability of insulin.