Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, R-Ark. announced Wednesday (May 11) a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) for manipulating and inflating insulin and drug prices in Arkansas.
In the complaint, filed in Pulaski County, Rutledge alleged that Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly conspired with Express Scripts, Caremark and Optum to significantly increase their revenues by unfairly and deceptively driving up the costs of insulin, making insulin and other diabetic treatments unaffordable for many diabetics in Arkansas.
“Thousands of Arkansans rely on insulin every day to live their best life. These drug manufacturers and PBMs have inflated the price of insulin and other diabetes-related medication to line their own pockets,” Rutledge said. “They have endangered the lives of thousands of Arkansans and Americans, who simply cannot afford to buy this life-saving medicine. Today, we begin the fight to stop this outrageous inflation of insulin pricing.”
More than 400,000 people in Arkansas have been diagnosed with diabetes and more than 800,000 are pre-diabetic. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputations.
In Arkansas, it’s the 7th leading cause of death.
Insulin has been around since the 1920s, but the first synthetic insulin was produced commercially in the 1980s, where it was originally priced at $14. Now it ranges between $300 and $700.
While insulin costs hundreds of dollars to buy at the pharmacy, it costs less than $2 to produce, Rutledge said.
Rutledge’s lawsuit claims the defendants violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief, restitution, damages, and civil penalties.