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Michigan Attorney General investigating Eli Lilly's insulin prices

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking court approval to launch an investigation into Eli Lilly, an Indiana-based pharmaceutical company.

She said there's probable cause to believe the company is charging Michigan consumers excessive prices for insulin products.

"The average out-of-pocket cost for one vial of insulin in Michigan is nearly $100," said Nessel. "No Michigander should have to face that kind of cost for life-saving medicine."

She said this is also an opportunity for Eli Lilly to produce evidence to explain the prices of the drug.

In a press release, Eli Lilly officials called the allegations false and inaccurate. The company said it offers multiple affordable options, where anyone can purchase their monthly insulin prescription for less than $35.

"Lilly welcomes systemic solutions and new public policies, such as copay caps on insulins like the one Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proposed, which could bring much-needed relief to people who face higher out-of-pocket costs for their medications. Until actual reforms fill these gaps, Lilly remains firmly committed to providing affordability solutions to people who need them," the company said in the press release.

This investigation by the attorney general's office may face several legal hurdles.

The attorney general's office has petitioned Ingham County Circuit Court to authorize investigation under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

It also wants the court to reconsider two prior Michigan Supreme Court decisions.

Nessel said the cases were wrongly decided and have hindered the state's ability to go after price gouging under the state's consumer protection statute.

"If we’re successful, it won’t just be about insulin prices and it won’t just be about medication. It will allow us to better protect consumers," she said.

Nessel said she will appeal if the investigation is not allowed to move forward.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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