Lawsuit accuses insulin makers of deceptive drug pricing


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    NATIONWIDE (WGME / CBS News) - A lawsuit is moving forward accusing insulin makers of deceptive drug pricing.

    This week the I-Team investigated the rising cost of the life-saving diabetes drug and the impact on Maine families.

    [Related: Maine families struggle with soaring cost of insulin]

    The 120-page lawsuit was filed in October and targets the three major manufacturers of insulin.

    The complaint alleges those drug companies deceptively raised prices making insulin less affordable to patients.

    "I think in America nobody should lose their life because they can't afford the cost of insulin," former Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a January interview with CBS News.

    Swanson claims insulin prices are "deceptive, misleading, and misrepresentative" as the list price of some insulin products has more than doubled since 2011 and tripled since 2002.

    It says a 10-milliliter vial of Lantus, for example, increased from $99.35 in 2010 when it first entered the market to $269.54 in 2018.

    The suit alleges to make money, manufacturers set phony list prices that are artificially high so they can offer greater rebates to pharmacy benefit managers and still maintain their profits.

    Swanson is no longer attorney general, but the case is moving forward.

    In January, Keith Ellison was sworn into office. A spokesman for the Minnesota Attorney General's Office tells the I-Team, Attorney General Ellison backs the insulin lawsuit and will continue with the case.

    Eli Lilly and Company told CBS News the lawsuit's "claims are without merit."

    Novo Nordisk said the company is "committed to ethics and compliance."

    Sanofi said it "provides significant rebates, but unfortunately, it seems these savings are not consistently passed through to patients in the form of lower co-pays or coinsurance."

    The lawsuit is looking to stop the companies from disseminating misleading list prices for insulin products.

    The lawsuit marks the first by a state to target pricing practices of insulin manufacturers.

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