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Drug industry suing to overturn Minnesota insulin affordability law

Published on 02/07/20 at 09:35am
Photo by Mr Hyde at Czech Wikipedia

The drug industry is suing to overturn a Minnesota law that requires companies to provide emergency insulin to diabetics who can’t afford it.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) filed a lawsuit in a federal court on Tuesday to declare the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act unconstitutional and issue a permanent injunction against its enforcement.

PhRMA said: “Unfortunately this law is unconstitutional, overlooks common-sense solutions to help patients afford their insulin and, despite its claims, still allows for patients to be charged at the pharmacy for the insulin that manufacturers are required to provide for free.”

The law was named after Alec Smith, an uninsured Minneapolis diabetic who died in 2017 after complications from rationing insulin. The act means that those who need emergency insulin will pay no more than $35 for a one time 30-day supply.

In response to the lawsuit Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec’s mother, said “today they have filed a lawsuit to stop a meaningful, workable solution to the tragic death of people with diabetes- simply because they can. Without the safety net that Alec's Law provides, we're going to see more Minnesotans die, and face serious long-term health consequences because they don't have emergency access to insulin”, while James Holt Jr, Alec’s dad, added “to say we are frustrated by this development is an understatement. Frankly, my family is outraged.”

The lawsuit has met with widespread criticism in Minnesota, with the state’s Governor, Tim Walz telling reporters: “They did something I didn't think was possible — they're more hated than COVID-19. How do you do this? How do you decide to be so awful on the day before this?”

The Republican majority in the Minnesota state senate also expressed their disappointment in PhRMA, but in legal terms they may have a case, as they are arguing the state is taking their product without compensation and that is unconstitutional.

Conor Kavanagh

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