California is taking the bold move to start making its own insulin in a bid to combat inflated drug prices created by big pharma companies.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that he had just approved a budget that allocates $100 million for the state to create its own insulin at a close-to-cost price, cheaper than currently available insulin.
Half of that money will go towards a California-based insulin manufacturing facility, while the remaining half will be used to develop lower-cost insulin products.
"Nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin," Newsom said in a tweeted video. "Many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per month for this life-saving drug. California is now taking matters into our own hands."
The move follows up on an early promise made by Governor Newsom. Within his first hours of taking office, he signed an executive order issuing a number of measures to lower prescription drug and health care costs for Californians.
California is not the first state to take a strong stance against sky-high insulin prices. In 2022, a law in Colorado came into effect that would effectively put a cap on insulin prices within the state. Some states, including Arkansas, have even filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies over insulin drug prices.
With type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin – a hormone that helps you manage your blood sugar level – due to an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks itself by mistake. Type 2 diabetes means your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn't work properly and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. People with type 1 diabetes will always require insulin injections, but those with type 2 may require insulin injections as part of their treatment plan as well.
The swelling cost of insulin has become an increasing burden for millions of Americans in recent years. Over 30 million people in the US have diabetes, and nearly a quarter of them use insulin to manage their symptoms and prevent life-threatening complications, according to RAND.
One study reported that 79 percent of diabetic Americans said that buying insulin had created a significant financial strain, while 4 in 5 said they had taken on credit card debt to buy insulin. About half said they’ve cut spending on clothing or food to be able to afford insulin, while nearly 30 percent said they’ve had to change rent or mortgage expenses to fit their insulin bill.
By sidestepping the big pharmaceutical corporations, California's new move hopes to significantly reduce these kinds of financial burdens and make living with diabetes a little easier.