Mississippi first state to sue drugmakers, PBMs over 'egregiously inflated' insulin costs

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch is suing some of the country's largest insulin makers and pharmacy benefit managers, accusing them of working together to artificially inflate diabetes drug prices for profit. 

The move is the first time a state has named both drugmakers and PBMs in a joint lawsuit over insulin costs, according to STAT

The June 8 lawsuit alleges that six drugmakers and PBMs raised the prices of their diabetes drugs up to 1,000 percent over the last decade, though the cost of producing the drugs has decreased. The suit names Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx, according to the Daily Journal

The suit alleges the reason behind the price increase is "fraudulent conspiracy between billion dollar companies known as PBMs" and drugmakers. Drugmakers allegedly artificially and willingly raise their prices and deceptively refund a significant portion of that price back to PBMs through rebates, the suit claims. 

The scheme has resulted in record profits for the drugmakers and PBMs at the expense of diabetics and payers, which the suit claims have been overcharged millions per year for "egregiously inflated" diabetes drugs. 

The insulin prices caused some people with diabetes to ration or underdose their insulin, inject expired insulin or reuse needles, the lawsuit says. 

Mississippi has the highest prevalence of diabetes in the U.S., with 13.6 percent of its population living with the disease, the attorney general said in a news release. More than 22 percent of all hospitalizations in Mississippi are attributable to diabetes. 

People with diabetes in the state spent on average $5,705 in 2016 for insulin needed to survive, the attorney general said. 

The lawsuit alleges violations of the Mississippi consumer protection act for unfair and deceptive practices, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy. 

Read the attorney general's full news release here

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