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Calif. suit accuses drugmakers, PBMs of insulin overcharging

insulin drugs

(Reuters) — California is suing the United States’ leading insulin makers and pharmacy benefit managers, accusing them of using their market power to overcharge patients for the life-saving drug, the state's attorney general announced on Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, targets Eli Lilly and Co., Novo Nordisk A/S and Sanofi SA, which together make more than 90% of the insulin drugs sold globally.

It also names the three largest pharmacy benefit managers — UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s Optum unit, CVS Health Corp.’s Caremark and Cigna Corp.’s Express Scripts. PBMs maintain the lists of drugs covered by health insurance plans and negotiate prices with manufacturers, and the top three account for about 80% of the market.

Insulin drugs are used to control blood sugar in patients with diabetes. About 8.4 million Americans depend on insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.