Judge Denies Insulin Makers’ Motion to Dismiss Class-Action Lawsuit Regarding Skyrocketing Insulin Prices
Attorney representing individuals living with diabetes against the pharma defendants says judge’s opinion “blows the insulin racket wide open” to expose deals with PBMs
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.”
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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with 10 offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.
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