Wed, 04 Oct 2023

California aims to make its own insulin brand to lower price

Robert Besser
02 Aug 2022, 17:13 GMT+10

SACRAMENTO, California: To counter the large jump in the purchase price of insulin used by diabetics, California is moving forward with plans to manufacture the drug.

In the past 30 years, says California residents, the cost of a vial of insulin has increased from $25 to $300.

Some diabetics must inject insulin every day.

"It's as essential as water," said diabetic Chris Noble, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Health care advocates believe that the ability of pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the manufacturing of insulin has resulted in the enormous price increases.

However, as some insulin patents are approaching their expiration dates, California hopes to disrupt the insulin market by manufacturing their own.

In June, after completing a multi-year study, California lawmakers set aside $100 million for the project, with $50 million to be used to develop three types of insulin, with the remaining funding to invest in creating a manufacturing facility.

Though California Governor Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have not completed all details, they have agreed that a private company will be responsible for the project.

"Nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin," Newsom said in a video posted to his Twitter account. "California is now taking matters into our own hands."

Of note, in 1990 the California Department of Public Health developed a treatment for infant botulism - which affects an infant's large intestine and was largely present in California.

Today, California continues manufacturing the treatment.

While there are only some 110 cases of infant botulism reported each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one course of California's botulism treatment costs more than $57,000, according to a legislative analysis.

To date, some 7 million people in the United States require insulin to treat their diabetes.

People with Type 1 diabetes must inject themselves with insulin every day.

Currently, only three companies produce most of the world's insulin.

Due to California's large population, it will be able to not only manufacture, but also purchase its less expensive insulin, thus driving down prices nationwide.

"That's why California's market power matters," said Anthony Wright of Health Access California, a consumer advocacy group.

"To a Wall Street investor, driving down the cost of insulin means you might not be able to get your investment back. To California, driving down the price of insulin is a real savings to both taxpayers, as well as to our residents," he said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

"We expect to save hundreds of millions of dollars for California because of this," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

"This gives us an opportunity to create a blueprint for healthcare affordability that has been so far out of reach for states and, frankly, the federal government, and it's really exciting to see where it can go," he added, as reported by the Associated Press.

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