Oklahoma's Own In Focus: The Cost Of Insulin In Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma is suing drug companies who make insulin and the prescription benefit managers who help negotiate drug prices. Attorney General Gentner Drummond says the companies and benefit managers are unlawfully inflating the price of the drug that keeps millions of diabetics alive.

Tuesday, May 14th 2024, 10:27 pm



The state of Oklahoma is suing drug companies who make insulin and the prescription benefit managers who help negotiate drug prices.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says the companies and benefit managers are unlawfully inflating the price of the drug that keeps millions of diabetics alive.

Depending on who you talk to, the cost of insulin has impacted them differently, but overall, it can cause financial hardship.

"He needs this. He has to have it every day to live," said Princess Anderson.

Princess Anderson's 14-year-old football star is a great student, a hard-working athlete, and a Type 1 Diabetic.

"Luckily, he's on insurance, so insurance does pay for it, but it gets times where he runs out of insulin, and insurance won't pay for it," said Anderson.

She says his daytime insulin pen costs her $189 dollars, and sometimes she has to pay for them out of pocket.

"This is the short-acting, and it's about 200 units of insulin, and here it may last a week. With him being an athlete, it varies," said Anderson.

Janel Bales is also a Type 1 Diabetic and was diagnosed ten years ago.

"Complete shock. Nobody in my direct family has type one diabetes. I'm the first in my family to have it. I thought my doctor was crazy," said Bales.

A few years ago, Bales had to switch her insulin type to a version her insurance didn't cover. She had to open another credit card just to afford it.

"So, I was paying around $460 out of pocket every 11 to 14 days for almost a year. We were able to finally get that situated and figure it out, but, financially for us we took a big hit," said Bales.

Every patient needs a different kind of insulin to keep them alive, and it's a grim reality that diabetics and their caretakers have to deal with, regardless of whether they have the money or not. 

Eli Lilly is a major manufacturer of the drug and is one of the companies being sued by Drummond. Lilly has capped the price at 35 dollars.

A spokesperson issued News On 6 this statement: 

This complaint is baseless and should be dismissed. It’s the parties filing these lawsuits, like the State—not Lilly—who decide the terms of the rebate arrangements they now say are improper, including whether to pass rebates on to people who take insulin and whether to choose higher list-price medicines over lower-priced options. Lilly, meanwhile, has led the industry in lowering insulin prices for people with diabetes. Lilly was the first and still only company to cap what people pay at $35 per month for all of our insulins, we cut insulin prices by 70%, and the average monthly out-of-pocket cost for Lilly insulin is just $17.16.

Oklahoma is among the worst states in the country when it comes to diabetes prevention, coming in at 41st in 2022, according to the United Health Foundation.

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