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Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge files lawsuit against insulin manufacturers

In a lawsuit, Leslie Rutledge alleges that six specific companies conspired to raise the cost of insulin in the Natural State.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — For those living with diabetes, rising insulin prices are an unfortunate reality.

That's something that Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is trying to change though as she said those prices are simply too high for Arkansans.

"Due to the rapidly rising cost of these medications, many diabetics in Arkansas ration, or under dose their insulin. They use expired insulin," Rutledge said.  

That's why she's taking action.

In a lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Wednesday, Rutledge alleges six companies – Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Caremark, Express Scripts and Optum – conspired to raise the cost of insulin in the Natural State.

According to Rutledge, that's a violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which makes it more likely for Arkansans to have complications because they can't afford their medication.

As far as the lawsuit goes, Rutledge said that she has a very specific reason for filing it.

"To hold these manufacturers and these PBM's accountable for their unfair and deceptive schemes of artificially inflating the cost of insulin," Rutledge said.

In the lawsuit text, there are graphs shown that demonstrate the spike in price of common insulins. 

One of those aforementioned insulin brands-- Levemir-- has spiked over the last 15 years, from roughly $100 a vial to now being roughly $400 a vial.

For those living with diabetes, they know how crushing those prices are.

"If you can't get by on less insulin, unfortunately, a lot of people find themselves rationing their insulin," Dr. Joseph Henske, Director of UAMS' Diabetes Program, said.

Dr. Henske knows those prices firsthand – not just from his patients, but because he's diabetic himself.

He knows this isn't an easy issue to address, but it's good to see any steps being taken to lower the cost of lifesaving medication.

"The more attention we pay to this issue, the more sort of cages we're rattling, the more likely it is to get addressed, ultimately," Dr. Henske said.

Rutledge said the goal is to prohibit those companies from any future violations in Arkansas, and to ensure the cost of insulin doesn't skyrocket again.

"To finally address the atrocious cost of prescription drugs, and particularly prescription drugs of insulin that has not changed in decades," Rutledge said. "Yet the price has gone up astronomically."

Rutledge said they're seeking $10,000 per violation in Arkansas.


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