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California lawsuit accuses drugmakers, PBMs of overcharging for insulin



(Reuters) — California is suing the leading U.S. insulin maker and pharmacy operator, accusing them of using their market power to overcharge patients for the life-saving drug, the state’s attorney general announced on Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, targets Eli Lilly and Co., Novo Nordisk A/S and Sanofi SA, which together account for more than 90% of the insulin drugs sold globally.

It also names the three biggest pharmacy benefits — UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s Optum unit, CVS Health Corp’s Caremark and Cigna Corp’s Express Scripts. PBMs maintain the lists of drugs covered by health insurance plans and negotiate prices with manufacturers, and the top three account for about 80% of the market.

Insulin drugs are used to control blood sugar in patients with diabetes. About 8.4 million Americans are dependent on insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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