Last summer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that his state planned to manufacture its own, more affordable, insulin for diabetics there. Now, California has moved a step closer to making that a reality. Newsom, who's on a statewide road trip to talk about his administration's policies, made a stop at a Kaiser Permanente warehouse in Downey on Saturday, with an announcement that California has entered into a 10-year, $50 million partnership with Civica Rx, a nonprofit generic drug manufacturer, reports NBC Los Angeles.
The partnership, which will be administered through the state's CalRx initiative, will offer insulin to patients for $30 per 10ml vial, or for no more than $55 for five insulin-filled pen cartridges, whether a patient is insured or not, per NPR. Three types of insulin are covered under the contract: glargine, lispro, and aspart. "This is a big deal, folks," Newsom said Saturday. "This is not happening anywhere else in the United States." Currently, a 10ml vial of insulin can cost as much as $300, Newsom noted. He also mentioned during his announcement that California will be making its own naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan), a drug used as an antidote for opioid overdoses.
The governor's news comes after multiple drugmakers, including Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, recently announced they were slashing prices of their own insulin. Earlier this year, the federal government put a $35 out-of-pocket cap on monthly insulin for certain Medicare patients, including seniors. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a lobbyist for big-name drugmakers, isn't happy about the development, with a rep telling Kaiser Health News that Newsom is just trying to "score political points." A professor at the UC College of the Law-San Francisco, however, tells the outlet it's an "extraordinary move," maybe even regarding other drugs down the line. "It's a very difficult industry to disrupt, but California is poised to do just that," says Robin Feldman. (Read more California stories.)