Thursday morning Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan led a team filing a lawsuit against three insulin manufacturers and four pharmaceutical benefit managers with an accusation of conspiring to keep prices artificially high in a price gouging scheme.
“We filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of insulin, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, and also the major pharmaceutical benefit managers Aetna RX, CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRX,” Ryan tells KTRH News.
The suit is filed on behalf of 38,000 county employees, their families, and inmates in county jail facilities.
The DA’s office says they were made aware of the escalating charges for life-sustaining insulin medication by the people in county government who work with health insurance. Ryan says this lawsuit could lead to a larger class action suit, but is being filed now because there are four suits already underway nationwide and he hopes to get out front in the push for a judgement.
Peggy Block, the lead attorney on the case, says they are beginning with a claim of a $27.5 million overcharge, but says it’s only the starting point. “That is an amount that has been incurred by us since 2013, and as we develop this case further I’m sure we’ll be able to find that there are tens of millions of additional dollars that we have been gouged and would like to recover.”
According to the Health Care Cost Institute, the average price for insulin has gone from $234 a month in 2012 to about $450 a month in 2016.