Lawsuit Against Insulin Companies Can Move Forward…..Tick Tick Tick

Below is the press release from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.  They are a consumer-rights class-action law firm with 10 offices across the country. They have won quite a few cases in the history of these type cases.The release is below with permission.

I spoke to a representative of the Law Firm tonight who stated that it is hoped that during ‘the discovery’ stage as this case moves forward, that practices not in the light today, including the PBMs and those practices, will come to light in full transparency.

While Steve Berman (Law Firm Partner) accused the benefit managers of being complicit, he said the lawsuit focused on the drug makers because “they are playing the game, and they are the ones who publish the list price.   (Link is NY times article including the quote) it very well may be that based on what is found in the discovery stage that the PBMS could be added as defendants.

In the 210 page complaint it states:

  1. Plaintiffs seek monetary relief against defendants in an amount to be determined at trial. Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages because defendants acted wantonly in causing plaintiffs’ and class members’ injuries or with such a conscious indifference to the consequences that malice may be inferred.
  2. Plaintiffs also seek an order enjoining defendants’ unfair, unlawful, and/or deceptive practices, attorneys’ fees, and any other just and proper relief ……….

Read the release below and after it is a link to the law firm as they are looking for participants in other states to join, as ordered by the court.  Have your story heard.

NEWARK, N.J. – Today, a federal judge’s opinion has greenlighted a national class-action lawsuit filed against Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly for their systematic overpricing of insulin and concealment of a behind-the-scenes arrangement orchestrated to hike insulin prices, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.

Hon. Brian R. Martinotti, U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey granted in part and denied in part the drug companies’ motion to dismiss the case. The opinion allows state law claims from plaintiffs – people living with diabetes who Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have forced to pay skyrocketing insulin prices – and gave attorneys representing them ability to address concerns regarding individual state representation. To the extent the court requires a patient from each state, attorneys say they can and will add clients to satisfy the court’s concerns.

Regarding the plaintiffs’ state claims, Judge Martinotti’s opinion read, “This Court finds Plaintiffs have adequately alleged fraudulent, unfair, or unconscionable conduct.” The court also held that the plaintiffs “adequately pled an ascertainable loss.”

The lawsuit states that in recent years, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have raised the sticker or “benchmark” prices on their drugs by more than 150 percent. Some plaintiffs now pay almost $900 dollars per month just to obtain the drugs they need, according to the firm.

Hagens Berman filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit in 2017, detailing several accounts from patients resorting to extreme measures to survive rising insulin prices, including starving themselves to control their blood sugars, under-dosing their insulin, and taking expired insulin. The complaint also detailed how class members having intentionally allowed themselves to slip into diabetic ketoacidosis – a potentially fatal blood syndrome caused by lack of insulin in the body – so that they can obtain insulin samples from hospital emergency rooms.

Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman, was named co-lead counsel in the case by Judge Martinotti.

“In general we are pleased with the decision because we can now bring consumer protection claims in most states,” Berman said. “This ruling also clears the way for us to begin obtaining discovery from the manufacturers and PBMs so we can shine the light on exactly what has driven insulin prices sky high.”

“This ruling blows the insulin racket wide open,” he added.

The complaint states that this once affordable drug is now out of reach for many patients due to a behind-the-scenes quid pro quo arrangement between drug makers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs): “increased benchmark prices are the result of a scheme and enterprise among each defendant and several bulk drug distributors. In this scheme, the defendant drug companies set two different prices for their insulin treatments: a publicly-reported, benchmark price and a lower, real price that they offer to certain bulk drug distributors.”

Click this link for this press release and scroll to see what other individuals from what states are sought.

If you have a story—-now is your chance to tell it.

Might it be that we may see this come to an end.  Sadly, as this moves through the courts and appeals, many others will die as they ration their insulin, or outright cannot afford it and cannot obtain it.  But it is a step.

Tick….tick….tick…..the clock is ticking, let’s hope they all do what is right sooner rather than later……..and even sadder, why has it come to this?

I’m a DiabetesDad
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Thoughts on that ‘Walmart’ Insulin

I have been reading some VERY INTERESTING comments on social media regarding the “insulin sold at Walmart”.  Some even using actual scare tactics that I’m not so sure should be used by anyone, nor does anyone any good.  Still not so sure why THAT is even being done.

To be clear,  Buying these insulins IS NOT an alternative to the dilemma of the high insulin costs.  What IT IS, is an alternative to dying because one cannot afford insulin. 

There are many things I have read over the years that leaves me scratching my head.  But I have also learned that how one manage their diabetes, or their loved ones’ diabetes ……is……well……up to them. If you can find a way to make the insulins work that Walmart sells, more power to you.  When Kaitlyn was first diagnosed, those insulins were pretty much all there was to manage the disease.  In fact one was actually ‘pork insulin’.  Twenty-six years later, here we are.

It will take an adjustment and a doctor should surely be involved….as always.  And it will probably be a pain in the ass. These certainly are the older generation of insulins, and so they don’t provide quite the same coverage for blood sugars. They have a shorter half-life than name brand insulins and they do not come in pens. They can peak in two hours and may need a 30-60 minute lead time….like I said, a pain.

You will also be better served by finding a way to obtain the insulins that are available today.  But if you cannot afford it, if the cost-reduction programs that the companies offer do not work for you, if you have tried government programs, senior centers (if applicable), and community and social programs for help and if there are no options…..and the only option is NOT TAKING insulin, well THAT is not an option at all.

Now please do not come after me with pitchforks and torches.  TO BE CLEAR: NOTHING SHOULD STOP THE PRESSURE BEING MOUNTED AGAINST THESE HIGH COSTS.  But I would not want it on my conscience that someone read something that I wrote and did not at least try it because of what I said…..and died because they went without.  There is a difference between ‘stop-gap’ action and a substitute for.

I’m still unsure why the government cannot relax the restrictions for buying insulin abroad until such time that those who are so ‘piggy with greed’ can find a balance.  Because this dilemma is bad, stupid, and inhumane.  Like the air we breath when denied, will kill us; so too it is a death sentence to not have insulin affordable to those who cannot survive without it.  THAT THOUGHT HAS NOT CHANGED. Why some bright lawyer has not figured out a way to sue over that, is also beyond me.

WE WILL ALL KEEP FIGHTING.  YOU must find a way to stay alive.  My prayers will continue and my actions will stay in full force until we find this rectified.  And if there is something out there to try with your doctor’s help as oppose to doing without…..I choose trying.  That is my point today,
I’m a DiabetesDad
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Small Time Becoming BIG TIME…..Diabetes Community’s Perfect Song

There was a movie with Tom Hanks making the rounds a years ago entitled,
That Thing You Do.  Wikipedia describes the movie; A small-time rock band rides a big wave of success with the help of a savvy record-executive and a catchy single.

You? You’re the small time rock band.  The savvy record executive are the voices who started this outcry.  And the catchy single is the unfairness of insulin prices.

The movie is about this small town group, with just a small voice keeps pushing and riding and yelling from the mountain tops that they have a good song.  Finally, a company called PlayTone (starting out as fictitious record company for the movie and actually established in 1998 by Mr. Hank and friends) signs them and pushes them to the top.  Had the voices not been there early on, the success would not have occurred.

Now read this first line from a Reuters article two days ago, and read it carefully.
Powerful committees in the U.S. Congress held hearings on Tuesday on insulin affordability and high prescription drug prices, an issue both chambers have said is a top priority for the year.

You did that.   Yes, you!

Before all of the many large organized diabetes groups jumped on board; and just as in the movie, you need big time to take you to the big time and they are a welcome site, there was just you.  You who have diabetes or have a child with diabetes first said, This is unfair, the current costs are going to be hurtful.   You wrote letters, you protested (even by yourself), you posted on social media…..you…..the voices in the diabetes community….before anything that occurred, became organized, or became unified……it was just you….that one voice who cared enough to “just not do nothing”.

So there is surely much work to happen yet.  But before all the big guns jump out and send press releases telling you of their wonderful efforts…….and they surely were and are wonderful efforts……..I just want to add a word of thanks to all those who one will not read bout, see, or hear about.   But know this, with no uncertainty, without those voices to tell the stories of rationing, cutting insulin doses, and simply doing without when no one else thought it cool enough or news worthy enough; we would not be here today.

Like I said…….more to do…….but thank you diabetes community, your voices are about to turn into a roar.  A number one hit no matter how you look at it.

I’m a DiabetesDad
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Legislation on New Bill to Tax Air we Breathe

In a very discreet and without fanfare congressional move, both houses today passed legislation that states commencing on January 1, 2020 there will be a tax placed on each American citizen for the use of air which is part of the mainland United States.  Senator John Consigliere of Wyoming stated that the move was made to further be able to pay for the many means of purification now needed for breathable air……………….

…….okay……got your attention??????

Stupid isn’t it that something so needed would have any cost to use it?  Something we would die without.  So needed for us to live that it does not make any sense to think we would have to pay for something we have to use to stay alive.  There will be no tax, there is no such Senator from Wyoming.

BUT for goodness sake can someone, anyone, possibly explain to me that people who need insulin to live; in some cases cannot get it due to cost.  If you think about it, there are many, many medications you can take to make your life bearable and better.  Some could die, if the med was not  taken.  But every single person—–EVERY SINGLE ONE of those who live with type 1 diabetes would die if their insulin was not available.  Some sooner than others.  And here’s the story, some have died already.

One was too many–and why?
Because of GREED!!!!!!!!

What does the government need to see to step in here.  Until a solution is reached, let’s call on the government to relax any and all legislation that prevents people from using whatever means necessary to obtain affordable insulin.  If an executive action can get a wall built (well, ok, threaten to anyway)….cannot the same action open the boarders, ease the restrictions, open the floodgates to allow insulin to be purchased at an affordable price?????

Once we figure it all out, we can backtrack a little but until such time, an emergency act can save lives and surely……it will!

Send this everywhere you can.  Until such time that we have an answer, this is an emergency action, an executive action. to save lives.

This is not a favor to make life comfortable.  This is an act of government/congress/senate/executive to allow insulin to be purchased……..at the end of the day, to so many, it’s as important as air.

I’m a DiabetesDad
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NEWSBREAK: CBS This Morning Reports on Insulin Costs, The Players, and the Lawsuit

CBS This MorningAs I wrote/reported recently on the story in Diabetes Daily, there is a lawsuit pending against the insulin companies regarding collusion on insulin pricing of late; and I also have stressed on how all parties need to react and must come together (read it here).  Today, on CBS This Morning, they report the story in more detail.

What I would like to stress about this story, is as I have also stated countless times, it is touched upon here in this report but do not just gloss over it.  At the end of the report, the reporters discuss how much finger-pointing there is going around—-THIS IS SO CRUCIAL because the finger-pointing will continue as long as ALL OF THE PLAYERS ARE NOT SITTING AT THE SAME TABLE AT THE SAME TIME to fix this problem.

It also will not matter what national health plan is in place, and do not be led off the path of what is important:  ALL PLAYERS MUST COME TOGETHER OR WE WILL BE IN A PERPETUAL, AND UNENDING, CIRCLE FOR YEARS TO COME.

THIS IS WHAT WE MUST ASK OF ALL THE PLAYERS……TO COME TOGETHER.

Here is the story on CBS This Morning.

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NEWSBREAK: Law Suit Against Top 3 Insulin Manufacturers

scales-justice-statueI won’t even try to re-report this story—-go to my colleagues’ story at Diabetes Daily and read all about it:
https://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/people-with-diabetes-are-suing-the-top-3-insulin-makers-349851/

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OPINION: If All Do Not Sit at the Table, at the Same Time, NOTHING will Get Done.

TableI received my mortgage bill recently from my bank.  There was an error in my amount of taxes.   So I called my municipal tax assessor’s office to confirm the error and they agreed.  I called my bank and informed them, they started a report (they always ‘start’ a report) and said they would look into it.  I called back in a few days and they stated they contacted the tax assessor’s office and that they were correct from the beginning and that I would be getting a letter…..from the report.

Uhhhhhhhmmmmm……I don’t think so.

After going around in a circle a few times, I got both the bank and the municipality on the call at the same time to stop the perpetual merry-go-round and we worked it through.  I will be getting the revised bill shortly.  Now those few sentences are about 6 hours worth of wasted time and energy, but when I got everyone together, at the table at the same time, as-it-were…..results.  Unless all the stakeholders are together at the same time it’s the gerbil in the never-ending spinning wheel.

Now hear me and hear me closely.  All of the government regulations, petitions, and meetings will not do anything substantial when it comes to the cost of insulin. Little will be done in tangible results.  At some point, the natural progression of the market and competition will do something to lower the costs and people will be jumping through hoops to take the credit….if that, indeed, ever happens.

Oh sure MANY, MANY really good things will happen that will REALLY, REALLY look good…..but it’s all for show to say to the world……”look what we did.”

But watch carefully….it’s all for naught.

But until such time as the stakeholders, the retailers, the producers, the manufacturers, all sit around the table at the same time to try to resolve this mess….and throw in a few elected officials to give a government perspective on the whole picture as well………..it won’t be resolved…….ever.  Please prove me wrong.  But if we want to see something significant happen with this insulin dilemma, get everyone involved at the same time at the same table and lock the door until a resolution comes into play….is really our only chance.

So either get everyone, EVERYONE, all together or, as I said, prove me wrong……..PLEASE…….prove me wrong.
I am a DiabetesDad.
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NEWSBREAK: Lilly Fires First Shot in Lowering Insulin Cost……Now We Need a War!

first-stepToday, Lilly Diabetes released an announcement that they are reducing insulin up to 40% for some users in the retail market.  You can read the announcement here:
https://investor.lilly.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=1003887

Now this very well may not be for everyone and clearly will not work in all cases, maybe not even in a whole bunch of cases.  But it will help in enough cases to impact a good deal of lives, and that’s good.   Lilly deserves all the credit in the world for actually trying to do something, and being the first to fire a tangible shot.  Now naysayers might criticize it; but there is something in this release that is revealing when Lilly Diabetes President, Enrique Conterno, states that this is a ‘first step’, and I believe him.  I participated in the discussions mentioned and I can tell you this, Lilly is serious in their attempt.

Why?  Because as I have stated before, I’m not a huge fan of petitions.  From my days in government I know they accomplish little but good PR for the ones issuing them.  In government it’s pretty well accepted that the amount of signatures is directly related to the PR machine behind it and not really about the substance, personal letters are a different story.  What Lilly Diabetes is doing is an actual action step.  IT WILL NOT be for everyone and may also be for a smaller percentage, but it’s a step and when it comes to major companies, I will take any step than no step at all.

The diabetes companies are not alone in the price issues and the costs being so high to patients; and it’s my sincere hope that ALL the players involved can solve the issues themselves because I feel, as is more of the case than not; to have the government involved in trying to fix this will be a disaster—–it usually is.

So I applaud Lilly Diabetes and I know they are not done speaking with people trying to figure all of this out.  It’s also my sincere hope that ALL OF THE PLAYERS (including retailers and payors/insurance companies) sit at the same table at some point to actually do something constructive to help those who cannot afford these crucial diabetes needs.  Not merely to issue a press release in the first week after a meeting (who cares) but to construct a bridge of new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking with REAL solutions, because diabetes patients deserve at least that.

Agreed, what Lilly Diabetes has begun will not solve all the problems, and maybe only help a small percentage;  but actually helping a small percentage quietly and methodically for some sort of actual solutions are so much better than huge “look at what we are doing” campaigns that will accomplish little.

Patients need action steps and Lilly Diabetes, I hope, has just started the snowball to begin rolling down the hill.  Time will surely tell.  Bravo Lilly Diabetes.
I am a DiabetesDad.
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When Did Insulin Enter the Oil Market? Rising Costs Seems that Way.

insulin oil wellHave you ever seen a story in the news about the rising cost of oil prices?  Usually a photo of men hovering together as if to show that they control the price per barrel and the rest of the world can only watch and wait…..and bear the brunt of whatever decision is made.  You’ve seen it, right?

The cry came forward from administration to administration how we had to be less reliant of foreign control of oil prices.  It impacts us all.  It’s a scary thought when we are confronted with the fact that a few are making a decision impacting many.   Because of this impact, it garners the attention of the news media.

When it comes to diabetes, there has been stories lately that seem to be missed by many and is becoming an increasingly worry-some fact.  The cost of insulin has been on the rise.  It’s been on the rise for some time.  In a Los Angeles Times article by David Lazarus almost a year ago he quotes Dr. Mayer Davidson, “…..Davidson cited a recent paper in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. showing that prices of both generic and patented insulins have jumped more than 500% since 2001. The cost of a vial of one of the most commonly used fast-acting insulins, Humalog, soared to $234 this year from $35 in 2001, the journal said….” (9/4 2015 LA Times)

What? And who do you think pays this?  Answer, us.

It’s not as if there is a shortage.  The American Diabetes Association states on their webpage; “ All insulin available in the United States is manufactured in a laboratory, but animal insulin can still be imported for personal use.” (Cite: Click Insulin Basics).

Now to me, I take it that there should be a fairly limitless supply as long as the manufacturing equipment has the materials needed.  I’m pretty sure they do. So if there is enough to make what is needed, why the rise in cost?

This rise in insulin cost, to me, is just because a few companies control the substance that keeps people alive.  They can dictate the prices because it’s not as if there are a million brands that would keep the consumer cost to a minimum, so much for consumer choice.  It’s because you have a choice of only a few.  Demand dictates cost.  With over 29 million people with diabetes and millions of those on insulin with only a few choices…….well that equals what we are now facing.  Glut. Greed. Money. Costs escalating.

But when people are prolonging their insulin doses by cutting back on what they feel ‘they absolutely need to have’ due to high costs, as oppose to what the doctor, recommends, and what the patient knows they need; ladies and gentlemen—-this is a real problem.  This could cost lives.

Keep your eyes open on this topic.  When you see advocates asking for actions, act. Join dPac today. If you have diabetes or a loved one with diabetes, this is site you might want to follow as they do an incredible job on ‘acting’ in all fields of diabetes. DPAC was co-founded and is run by patients with diabetes: Bennet Dunlap and Christel Marchand Aprigliano. Joined by other diabetes patient advocates the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) is an alliance of people with diabetes, caregivers, patient advocates, health professionals, disease organizations and companies working collaboratively to promote and support public policy initiatives to improve the health of people with diabetes. DPAC seeks to ensure the safety and quality of medications, devices, and services; and access to care for all 29 million Americans with diabetes.

Insulin is not oil.  It would be a shame if these costs are controlled in a board room.  I fully understand free enterprise….but when a ‘controlled market’ of people are paying too high a cost to JUST stay alive…..someone needs to step in.  People will die.
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Tried CGM? Pump?…and Went Off…..YOU FAILED!!!!!……..Hmmmmm Really?

failureI have a friend; let’s call her K.  K has a son, let’s call him Z.  I have known K for a very long time and she was an incredible actress.  I thought nothing could ever surpass her talent, but it did, it was K’s incredible and wonderful heart.  She is an incredible mom and her family has become her life.  It’s not surprising in the least.

Recently K share a story about her son who was on a football team.  Z decided that playing football was not for him.  Despite the uniform, the money laid out, and the time invested, once Z stated and meant that he wanted out; K allowed him to get out.  She applauded her son for letting her know how he felt and she backed his decision.  Z no longer plays football.

Now to some this may seem a very easy choice.  But I also know parents who kept their child involved in things that the child absolutely hated.  “I need to teach them that they cannot quit something once they commit.”  Is their thought process.  This is a very fine line to walk and the discussion relates directly to our diabetes world.

Laying out money for an insulin pump and/or a CGM is a big investment in both time and money.  At what point are we doing what is best for our child and what point are we absolutely torturing our child?  Now it’s understood that our children may absolutely HATE checking blood sugar and taking insulin and of course we cannot ever stop that process no matter what, but………when it comes to the devices that our children wear, when is the decision a must; and when is it a cooperative decision with our children?

A tough line to draw in the sand….yes?

Okay.  So the decision has been made.  You are approved and you receive the device, your child wears it.  Tries it.  And after a given time………THEY ABSOLUTELY HATE IT.  Hate IT!!!!!!

What do you do?

IN actuality, I’m not asking THAT question.  That’s for you to conclude in your house.  My point is for those who come to the decision to remove the device and try managing without it.  It’s crucial that should/when that decision be made that neither you and especially your child, are ever made to feel as though you failed, and even more so, that your child failed.  I’m a HUGE FAN of both the insulin pump and the CGM.  But it’s easy to be a fan when I do not have to wear either/both 24/7.

My dear, late, friend Dr. Richard Rubin’s voice is very loud and clear in my head in these instances.  “It’s about choices.”  Discuss the choices ahead for you and your child.  If they are absolutely against it, forcing them could have an adverse impact for a long time.  Be careful.  I’m not going to even attempt giving you a formula for what works and what does not in these instances because it’s just so different with each person/family.  I am going to say that people lived very long lives without, and before, the addition of these incredible tools.

Not using one, or going on one and going off one, is not the sign of failing and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.  How you handle this situation will set the framework for the possibility of using a device in the future.  People, our kids too, can change their mind.  Allowing them do so, for or against, is a very important part of their management.  The only non-negotiable (outside of checking and taking insulin of course–and even at that, my friend Joe S. and 50 years with diabetes states that a ‘vacation’ to some days is worthy to do very carefully—-ask Joe about how to do that!!!!) was the wearing of their ‘alert’ bracelet or necklace.

Everything else became a choice.

For the most part we came to a mutual decision and even when Kaitlyn was pretty young, it went that way as well.  Easy?  Nope.  So the take-away here is defining what a failure IS NOT.  It’s not about deciding against something.  Just as K’s son, Z, made the choice that football was not for him.  Not a life and death decision surely, but how K let this play out was very important and a lesson to be learned.  It was handled perfectly.

Failure is staying in something that is just wrong.  How you define that is up to you and/or your child.  Think about it.

I am a diabetes dad.

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