Mississippi Attorney General fighting back against rising insulin prices
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch is taking on insulin manufacturers over what she calls a pricing scheme.
She filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the reason behind the increase in insulin costs is a fraudulent conspiracy between the manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers. It states that scheme has left diabetics overcharged for wrongly inflated medications they need to survive.
It’s personal to Fitch. Her daughter’s a diabetic and she’s seen the rising insulin costs first hand.
“They’re making record profits at the expense of diabetics and Mississippi taxpayers,” said Fitch.
The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi hears many of those stories.
“A financial barrier to your good health and overall quality of life... that’s horrible,” said Irena McClain, Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi Associate Director.
While there are sometimes coupons available, they say there are little options to drive down the rising costs.
“We assist as much as we can with donations of insulin that we’ve had donated to us and have gotten information from the patients that have donated it... they’ve switched to a different insulin or gone to a pump,” added McClain.
Kim Kuhn’s daughter Emerson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 8.
“If she doesn’t get her insulin, then she dies,” stated Kuhn. “The more that it increases, the more you have to budget for it. And then we have to take some things out of our life. Her health is our priority and keeping her alive is our number one job.”
Kuhn notes that insulin alone doesn’t begin to cover it all.
“Just for her pump, which is what she wears to distribute the insulin through her body, [...] is $800 a month and that’s with insurance,” she said.
All the meds and supplies combined are $1,500 dollars a month. Amy Langley has seen the extremes.
“There have been times... when me and my husband first got together, he was rationing insulin at times,” Langley noted.
Now, her husband and two sons are all on insulin for Type 1 diabetes. So, those insulin costs are multiplied.
“Honestly, some months we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Langley said. “Or my husband or myself are trying to pull extra jobs to bring extra income in. But it can be very hard.”
Those are, of course, only some of the stories... because Mississippi has the highest prevalence of diabetes in the United States with 13.6% of its population, over 400,000 people, living with diabetes.
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