The price of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013. Since 2008, drug companies have increased the price 10 times. Now, a group that tracks prescription drug prices says companies are starting the year by increasing prices on almost 300 medications.
It’s against that backdrop that the state of Minnesota sued the three top makers of insulin.
The companies say the mechanism by which they price their products — and the prices themselves — are trade secrets, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson tells CBS News for a story that ran this morning. So all mention is redacted from the lawsuit documents.
“It’s incredibly frustrating and we’re gonna be fighting that. Because these companies claim that certain information is trade secret. That it’s confidential. And that they and only they can see it,” said Swanson, whose time in office is about over.
“Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s a public lawsuit filed in court, but we can’t put the numbers in because they’re claiming it’s a trade secret and that nobody’s entitled to know or see that information,” Swanson said.
The companies say it’s not their fault that rebates and discounts are not passed along to consumers. Swanson doesn’t buy it.
Neither does Nicole Smith-Holt of Richfield, whose son died because he couldn’t afford $708 a month for his insulin and rationed it instead. Alec, 26, died alone in his apartment.
“Nobody to be there with him, to hold his hand or to call for help … and then I think about if he had never moved out, if he had lived at home, somebody would’ve, you know, seen the signs,” Smith-Holt said. “And I’ll probably feel guilty every day for the rest of my life.”
Keith Ellison, the incoming attorney general, has promised to continue the lawsuit.
Related: Want to know the true price of a hospital procedure? (Marketplace)