Are Republicans finally beginning to stand up against big pharma? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has announced a probe into drug manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) over possible violations of the law pertaining to massively increased costs of insulin, a life-saving drug used by millions of diabetics.
As Just The News pointed out, insulin prices are exorbitant when one compares the United States to other developed countries. Paxton noted that the retail cost for some insulin products has shot up 200% to 1,000% “for a drug that is over 100 years old.”
“The excessive prices have forced millions of Americans to ration their medication or even go without it entirely,” said the Texas attorney general.
This news may come as a surprise to some Democrats, especially former United States representative Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, who accused Republicans of intentionally trying to lessen the affordability of insulin back in April.
“Every single Republican in our delegation, right here in Texas, voted against it… GO FIGURE!”
Increasing access to INSULIN? Nope.
4/2/22-Texas College Democrats Convention-part 4#BetoForTexas pic.twitter.com/k2S9bQmHvT
— BetoMedia (@BetoMedia) April 3, 2022
Drug manufacturers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, and PBMs CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx have all reportedly been given Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs), which require ranges of information be provided within 30 days.
“Texans today are made to choose between buying groceries to feed their families and paying sky-high prices for a life-saving drug that’s been estimated to cost around two dollars to make,” Paxton said, before promising he would hold “all responsible parties accountable if their actions leading to outrageously elevated insulin prices violated the law.”
PBMs and insurers have helped create “the inflationary pressures” and “skyrocketing prices set by manufacturers,” alleged Texas Public Policy Foundation director of Right on Healthcare initiative David Balat. He expressed approval for the investigation, saying he hopes it will bring transparency and “introduce competitive forces that improve affordability for everyone.”
A U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigation found that skyrocketing insulin prices were directly correlated to a scheme by PBMs.
“We found that the business practices of and the competitive relationships between manufacturers and middlemen have created a vicious cycle of price increases that have sent costs for patients and taxpayers through the roof,” commented Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
“This industry is anything but a free market when PBMs spur drug makers to hike list prices in order to secure prime formulary placement and greater rebates and fees.”