The class action represents diabetics who paid high out-of-pocket costs for Lantus, Levemir, Novolog or Humalog in the past 4 years because they were uninsured or had a costly insurance plan.
The out-of-pocket cost of insulin nearly tripled from 2002-2013. In the last 5 years alone, three drug-makers — Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly & Co., and Sanofi — increased sticker-prices on insulin by 160%.
This is a problem for people who need insulin to live, which includes 1.25 million Americans with type-1 diabetes. Many people with type-2 diabetes also inject insulin every day to help process sugar in food.
Insulin was first used to treat diabetes nearly a century ago. It has historically been one of the cheapest diabetes medications. Up until the mid-1990s, the four medications listed above cost $25 per month.
Over the next 20 years, drug-makers boosted prices by 1000% — at almost the exact same rate — every year until prices hit $250 in 2016.
Here is a diagram showing prices increasing in “perfect lock step” for two long-acting drugs: Lantus (Sanofi) and Lemivir (Novo Nordisk).
Here is another diagram for two short-acting insulin drugs: Humalog (Eli Lilly) and Novolog (Novo Nordisk).
Each chart has two price lines from two independent drug-makers who are supposed to be competing with each other — but clearly are not.
Over the same 20-year time-period, prices stayed the same or even dropped for certain Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who buy insulin in bulk for health insurers and negotiate the lowest price.
The difference in price is not advertised because drug-makers do not want the public to realize they are paying inflated prices, lawyers say.
Some plaintiffs in the class action pay almost $900 per month for diabetes medications, according to the law firm. Others have intentionally allowed themselves to slip into life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis so they can get insulin from hospital emergency rooms.
The class action lawsuit was filed on January 30, 2017 in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts — In RE: Donald Chaires et al., vs. Sanofi U.S. et al. — Case No. 1:17-cv-10158.