by Scott McClallen
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) filed a lawsuit late Tuesday seeking to strike down affordable insulin legislation the day before the law took effect.
The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act was named after a 26-year-old who died in 2017 while rationing his insulin medicine because he couldn’t afford the $1,300 refill after aging out of his parent’s insurance coverage.
The law seeks to act as a safety net by providing diabetics who can’t afford their insulin an emergency 30-day supply for a co-pay of $35.
Another provision requires insulin manufacturers to sell a 90-day supply of insulin for a maximum of $50 to eligible residents who have a family income below 400 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
Insulin manufacturers who don’t comply can be fined up to $3.6 million in the first year and $7.2 million in the second year.
PhRMA Executive Vice President and General Counsel James C. Stansel said they’d offered “real policy reforms” that would work better for patients.
“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,” Stansel said in a statement.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and claims the law is unconstitutional.
PhRMA’s complaint says the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by forcing insulin manufacturers to provide products to Minnesotans without compensation.
“A state cannot simply commandeer private property to achieve its public policy goals,” the lawsuit stated.
It asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional and for a permanent injunction barring its enactment.
Gov. Tim Walz held a news conference Wednesday afternoon celebrating the law going into effect, which Alec’s parents attended.
James Holt said his family “is outraged” over the lawsuit.
“My office and I will defend [the insulin bill] with every resource we have,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. “I’m defending it on behalf of all Minnesotans who believe that no one should die because they can’t afford their insulin.”
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said the lawsuit was “poorly timed.”
“We are very disappointed with the drug manufacturers’ lawsuit against the Alec Smith Affordable Insulin Act after so much work went into a compromise bill assuring no Minnesotan would have to go without insulin,” Gazelka said in a statement.
– – –
Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.