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Attorney General Rutledge Files Suit Against Drug Manufacturers and PBMs For Inflating Insulin and Drug Prices

Says, ‘They have endangered the lives of thousands of Arkansans and Americans, who simply cannot afford to buy this life-saving medicine’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) for manipulating and inflating insulin and drug prices in Arkansas. In the complaint, filed in Pulaski County, Attorney General Rutledge alleges that Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly conspired with Express Scripts, Caremark and Optum to significantly increase their revenues by unfairly and deceptively driving up the costs of insulin, making insulin and other diabetic treatments unaffordable for many diabetics in Arkansas and creating an enormous financial burden for Arkansas consumers.

“Thousands of Arkansans rely on insulin every day to live their best life. These drug manufacturers and PBMs have inflated the price of insulin and other diabetes-related medication to line their own pockets,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “They have endangered the lives of thousands of Arkansans and Americans, who simply cannot afford to buy this life-saving medicine. Today we begin the fight to stop this outrageous inflation of insulin pricing.”

Diabetes is an epidemic in Arkansas. More than 400,000 people in Arkansas have been diagnosed with diabetes and more than 800,000 are pre-diabetic. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputations. In Arkansas, it’s the seventh-leading cause of death despite the availability of effective treatment. Many Arkansans rely on daily insulin treatments to survive. Millions more use oral medications, insulin, or a combination to control their diabetes. The inflated costs have made it more difficult for Arkansas diabetic patients to buy their medications, leading to avoidable complications and higher overall healthcare costs.

Insulin has been around since the 1920s, but the first synthetic insulin was produced commercially in the 1980s, where it was originally priced at $14. Now it ranges between $300 and $700. While insulin costs hundreds of dollars to buy at the pharmacy, it costs less than $2 to produce. In the last decade alone, manufacturers and PBMs have worked together in an insulin-pricing scheme to increase the price of insulin up to a thousand percent. According to AG Rutledge’s complaint, CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx have collectively dominated the pricing system for insulin and boosted their cash flow during the pricing surge while harming every Arkansan who purchased this life-saving drug.

Attorney General Rutledge is suing the insulin and drug manufacturers and PBMs who created the insulin-pricing scheme for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), unjust enrichment, and civil conspiracy. The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief, restitution, damages, and civil penalties to address and stop the harm caused by their Insulin-Pricing Scheme.