Minnesota has achieved a significant breakthrough in the battle against insulin price gouging with Eli Lilly, ensuring affordable access to life-saving medication for residents. The settlement guarantees that Minnesotans can purchase Lilly-produced insulin for just $35 per month over the next five years, benefiting approximately 500,000 individuals. This agreement marks a pivotal moment in the fight for healthcare equity, emphasizing the necessity of accessible medication for individuals with diabetes. Despite ongoing litigation against other major insulin manufacturers, the resolution with Eli Lilly sets a precedent for addressing exorbitant drug prices. With the support of legal actions, government initiatives, and advocacy efforts, this settlement signals progress towards a healthcare system that prioritizes affordability and patient well-being.
Minnesota has successfully settled a price-gouging lawsuit with Eli Lilly and Co., one of the largest insulin manufacturers in the United States, marking a significant victory in the battle against exorbitant insulin costs. Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the landmark agreement on Wednesday, which guarantees that Minnesotans can purchase Lilly-produced insulin for a mere $35 a month over the next five years.
This groundbreaking settlement is poised to benefit approximately 500,000 residents across Minnesota, regardless of whether they possess insurance coverage. Under the terms of the agreement, all Lilly brand-name insulin products will be available at the capped price of $35 per month. While litigation is ongoing against the other two major insulin manufacturers named in the 2018 lawsuit—Sanofi-Aventis and Novo Nordisk—the resolution with Eli Lilly represents a significant step forward in ensuring affordable access to vital medication for individuals with diabetes.
Insulin is a lifeline for over 8 million Americans, facilitating the conversion of food into energy in individuals who do not naturally produce enough of the hormone due to diabetes. Despite efforts by pharmaceutical companies to assist diabetics in covering insulin expenses and Minnesota’s implementation of an emergency safety net program in 2020, Attorney General Ellison emphasizes that the settlement offers unparalleled assurances to patients regarding their out-of-pocket insulin costs, commencing immediately.
Attorney General Ellison asserted, “It doesn’t make sense for this lifesaving medicine to be locked behind the glass you can only break in case of an emergency, or behind a high wall of prices. This settlement shatters that glass and tears down that wall—$35 out-of-pocket, when you need it.” The accessibility of affordable insulin is further facilitated through the website MNinsulin35.org, where Minnesotans can obtain information on how to avail themselves of the $35-a-month Lilly insulin.
Echoing Minnesota’s efforts, New York recently secured a similar settlement with the three leading insulin manufacturers. Additionally, several other states, including California, Illinois, Arizona, and Utah, along with various local governments, have initiated comparable legal actions over the past year. President Joe Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act extended relief by capping out-of-pocket insulin costs for Medicare recipients at $35 per month, although this provision exclusively benefits seniors.
In response to the settlement, Lilly expressed its commitment to ensuring affordable access to its insulin products for Minnesotans. The company highlighted its prior initiatives, including price reductions and caps announced in March of the previous year, which have substantially decreased the average monthly out-of-pocket cost for Lilly insulin to $20.48. Similarly, Novo Nordisk unveiled plans for insulin price reductions commencing this year, indicating a broader industry trend towards greater affordability.
The significance of affordable insulin access is deeply personal for many Minnesotans, exemplified by the tragic story of Alec Smith, whose untimely death in 2017 at the age of 26 underscored the dire consequences of insulin rationing due to cost concerns. Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec’s mother, spoke at the news conference, expressing gratitude for the multitude of avenues now available for diabetics in Minnesota to obtain affordable insulin. She remarked, “It’s going to save so many lives.”