NEW YORK (WRGB) — State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that she has secured agreements from the nation’s largest insulin manufacturers, Eli Lilly and Company, and Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC, to cap the price of insulin at $35 per monthly prescription for uninsured New Yorkers for five years.
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An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that the list prices set by insulin manufacturers for patients resulted in significant out-of-pocket costs for certain insulin users, causing some to ration their insulin or forgo it altogether. Under Tuesday’s agreements, any uninsured New Yorker who uses Lilly or Sanofi insulin products will not be charged more than $35 for a monthly supply of insulin for the next five years, and both companies also committed to offering free insulin for the neediest patients.
“Lifesaving medication should be affordable and accessible for all New Yorkers regardless of their income or insurance status,” James said in a statement. “Today, uninsured New Yorkers who rely on insulin to manage their diabetes can breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to choose between their health or putting food on the table. I will always use the powers of my office to protect vulnerable New Yorkers, and to ensure no company takes advantage of them.”
Over the past two decades, the list prices for insulin have increased dramatically. From 2002 to 2013, the average list prices for insulin products from all manufacturers nearly tripled. For a person with Type 1 diabetes, annual spending on insulin averaged $2,864 in 2012, and that spending increased to an average of $5,705 in 2016. These dramatic cost increases were not driven by insulin manufacturing costs, which by one estimate would be no more than $133 per person per year.
As part of these agreements, Lilly and Sanofi have committed to offering affordable programs that ensure that no patient walks away from a pharmacy empty-handed because they could not afford their insulin. Both Lilly and Sanofi have agreed to implement a streamlined process at the pharmacy counter that would allow pharmacies to automatically advise cash-paying consumers of their ability to fill their monthly prescription for $35, before leaving the pharmacy counter.
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In addition to the $35 monthly cap for any uninsured New Yorker, Lilly has also agreed to continue working with national relief agencies to identify high-need geographical locations throughout New York and to offer insulin products free of charge, through national relief agencies, to more eligible non-profit clinics in those locations. Those clinics can then offer insulin products for free in those areas that are the most in need. Sanofi has also agreed to offer free insulin to the neediest consumers who meet income thresholds tied to the federal poverty line.
“New Yorkers should never have to beg and borrow to obtain lifesaving medications,” Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said in a statement. “However, for far too long, big pharmaceutical companies charged hardworking New Yorkers a fortune for treatment, leaving some to forego much-needed care. That devastating power imbalance ends today. Thanks to Attorney General James, uninsured New Yorkers will now be able to access insulin at a reasonable cost, leveling the playing field for all who rely on this critical medication.”