PORTLAND, Ore. -- A federal lawsuit filed this week against drug companies that make insulin names Oregon and Washington as potential beneficiaries. It accuses those companies of intentionally price gouging the life-saving diabetes drug to make a bigger profit.
"I can only come up with greed and the fact that people who use insulin by and large are lifers," said Trina Blake of Portland, who is a lifetime insulin user for her type 1 diabetes. Thankfully, she says she has good insurance and a low deductible or else she'd be feeling the effects of her medicine going from $1,000 a year in 2012, to $5,000 a year today.
"It appalls me, you gotta think now they have a real cheap way to make it, it's not new."
The lawsuit details risky stories of low-income patients starving themselves to lower their blood sugar or using expired insulin because the price is so high. It's angered some patients enough that they filed the federal lawsuit Monday out of Massachusetts, representing all 50 states. It fires back at insulin manufacturers Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, accusing them of conspiring together to hike prices, despite no alleged change in their production costs.
A recent study in the Journal of The American Medical Association found that the price of insulin has tripled since 2002.
Tuesday President Donald Trump invited top pharmaceutical companies to the White House, saying, "U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country, but the pricing has been astronomical for our country." Trump says he has plans to lower taxes and FDA regulations to incentivize lower drug costs.
Oregon republican Congressman Greg Walden was in the room, sending out this statement to KGW afterward:
"I am glad to have joined President Trump, Vice President Pence, and several other key stakeholders in an important discussion to address a major concern for millions of Americans – drug costs that are simply too high. We explored several paths forward and I am confident that we can work together to reform the FDA, spur competition, and bring costs down for the many patients who struggle to afford the medications they need."
If the suit gets class-action status, it demands that Oregon insulin users be awarded at least $200 or any amount greater than that a jury decides. The lawsuit does not specify an award amount for Washington users.
The drug companies being sued all dispute the charges, and plan to fight them.