The Potluck

Drugmakers sue Minnesota to permanently block insulin-affordability law

By: - July 1, 2020 9:24 am

A pharmacy manager retrieves medication. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade group representing insulin makers, is suing the state of Minnesota over a law set to take effect Wednesday that aims to provide affordable insulin to those who need it. 

The lawsuit is asking for a permanent injunction. Minnesota elected officials reacted scornfully.

State Rep. Mike Howard, DFL-Richfield, said in a tweet: “Big Pharma’s lack of morality is literally killing people. With this lawsuit they attempt to take insulin away from people who cannot afford a drug they need to survive. But have faith, this fight for justice will prevail over unbridled greed.”

PhRMA filed in federal court on Tuesday, just a day before a newly-enacted Minnesota law would have kicked in and begun providing diabetic Minnesotans with life-saving insulin. The trade group argues the law is unconstitutional, unlawfully forcing drug manufacturers to give away their medicine without compensation. 

“The Act’s implications are staggering,” the lawsuit says. “If Minnesota can appropriate pri‐ vately manufactured insulin for distribution to its residents without paying any compensation — let alone just compensation — to the manufacturers, states can compel manufacturers to dispense other medications for free as well.”

In a statement, the D.C.-based trade group said it “advocated for real policy reforms that states like Minnesota can pursue to make the system work better for patients and why manufacturers have long offered robust affordability programs that offer insulin for free or at reduced costs for those who need help.”

 News of the lawsuit surprised advocates of the compromise legislation approved in April after nearly 2 years of political gridlock. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office would be involved in defending the state law, issued a rebuke of the lawsuit. 

“@PhRMA wants to attack Minnesota’s new insulin affordability law,” Ellison wrote on Twitter. “We look forward to defending the people of Minnesota in court against this morally repugnant behavior.”

PhRMA Lawsuit


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