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A patient holds insulin

A patient shows her insulin kit. (Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

'This Will Save Lives': California Answers Insulin Crisis With Plan to Make Its Own

"In California we know that people should not go into debt to receive lifesaving medication," Gov. Gavin Newsom said while announcing a new $100 million plan.

Brett Wilkins

Healthcare advocates on Thursday cheered an announcement that California will take on Big Pharma greed and the insulin affordability crisis by manufacturing its own low-cost version.

"Nothing epitomizes market failure more than the cost of insulin."

"In California we know that people should not go into debt to receive lifesaving medication," California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared during an afternoon address.

"On my first day in office, I signed an executive order to put California on the path toward creating our own prescription drugs," the Democrat said. "And now it's happening. California is going to make its own insulin."

"Nothing epitomizes market failure more than the cost of insulin. Many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per month for this lifesaving drug," the governor continued. "California is now taking matters into our own hands. The budget I just signed sets aside $100 million so we can contract and make our own insulin at a cheaper price, close to at-cost, and make it available to all."

Advocates hailed Newsom's announcement.

"There's no doubt that this will save lives," Healdsburg Vice-Mayor Ariel Kelly tweeted.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia called the plan "a model for other states."

Indeed, news of California's plan reverberated across the nation, with progressive Minnesota congressional candidate Amane Badhasso tweeting: "This is great news for Californians. Americans pay more than [eight times] what people in most countries pay for insulin. It's how 4 out of 5 insulin users fall into debt! California is standing up for its people. It's time Washington stood up for all of us."

According to Newsom, $50 million will be allocated for the development of low-cost insulin, while another $50 million will be spent on a manufacturing facility in the state. Funding won't be a problem, as California boasts a record budget surplus of nearly $100 billion.

Three pharmaceutical corporations control the lucrative U.S. market for insulin, which often costs as much as $300 to $400 per vial without insurance. Rampant price gouging and the lack of prescription drug coverage have left 1 in 4 Californians who need insulin to treat their diabetes unable to afford it—sometimes with deadly consequences.

A study from researchers at Yale University published this week revealed that 1 in 7 U.S. insulin patients face "catastrophic" levels of spending on the medicine, meaning they spent at least 40% of their income after paying for housing and food on the drug.


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