Beshear taking on 3 insulin makers in lawsuit

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Attorney General Andy Beshear says his office is moving forward with a lawsuit against three insulin makers over skyrocketing prices and an investigation into pharmacy benefit managers who have allegedly overcharged Kentuckians, local pharmacies and the state for prescription drugs.

Two requests for proposals, or RFPs, are now posted on the system where state government solicitations are placed online. Bidders can compete to assist the Office of the Attorney General’s legal efforts on the two matters.

Beshear says the process is efficient for taxpayers as the winning bidders will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they receive no upfront state tax dollars and attorneys are only paid a set portion of any monies awarded in a civil action.

The RFPs follow the state’s model procurement code guidelines and includes a contingency fee schedule set by state law, which includes a fee cap. The RFP outlines evaluation criteria and scope of work, which includes reviewing information and documents obtained through civil investigative demands and subpoenas and recommending legal courses of action. The deadline to bid is Oct. 4.

A lawsuit Beshear filed in May against Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis and Novo Nordisk, alleges that since 2008 the three defendants, who control 96% of the world’s insulin market, have increased the price of their analog insulin products at least 10 times, while the costs to make insulin have stayed low, usually less than $7 per vial. The wholesale price has jumped to nearly $300 and the price paid by those Kentuckians hit hardest by the deception can exceed $1000 a month.

“While Kentucky families have paid more and more for prescription drugs, these multibillion-dollar international pharmaceutical corporations have raked in billions,” Beshear said. “Today, we are another step closer to finding out if the actions of these companies resulted in Kentucky families paying too much for prescription drugs, like insulin that they depend on daily to live.”

Beshear said the ruthlessness of the companies is clear when you consider that in 1922, the inventors of insulin sold their patent for just $1 so that this critical drug would be available and affordable for diabetics everywhere. He is seeking to ensure the companies correct their exploitative conduct, discharge their ill-gotten gains and pay civil penalties to the state.

“Kentucky ranks seventh highest in the U.S. for diabetes prevalence and I am working to get to the bottom of why insulin prices continue to skyrocket,” Beshear said. “Diabetics should not have to risk life and limb to treat a disease with what could and should be inexpensive medication.”

Also In May, Beshear joined a multistate action against 20 generic drug makers for engaging in an alleged widespread scheme to inflate and fix the price of over 100 generic drugs. Again, he is demanding the companies pay state civil penalties and correct their conduct.



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