Colorado AG Cites Feldman and C4i’s Research in Insulin Report

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Key subsection titled “The Feldman Report” finds state’s insulin costs Increased by 280%.

The Colorado Department of Law released a report earlier this month on the high cost of insulin and the barriers to access facing Coloradans that cited work by Professor Robin Feldman and UC Hastings’ Center for Innovation (C4i). The department was directed by the Colorado House of Representatives to study the high cost of insulin in the state and identify the unique drivers shaping insulin delivery, resulting in the Prescription Insulin Drug Pricing Report.

In research led by Feldman and supported by C4i’s Chief Data Scientist Ramy Alsaffar and Research Fellow David Toppelberg, C4i presented five major findings about insulin pricing and delivery in Colorado that were included in the report:

  • Colorado insulin costs increased by 280 percent between 2010 and 2018.
  • Out-of-pocket costs paid by Coloradans more than doubled in seven years.
  • Under Medicare Part D, Colorado insulin patients pay more during the prescription drug coverage gap phase, known as the “donut hole,” than patients in other states.
  • Insulin tiering in health care plan formularies may be limiting drug choices among diabetics. Drug patent evergreening contributes substantially to the problem of high drug prices (in Colorado and elsewhere) as pharmaceutical companies routinely add decades of protections and monopoly prices to their best-selling insulin products. For example, Eli Lilly’s Humalog added 17 years of protection; Novo Nordisk’s Novolog added 27 years; and Sanofi’s Lantus added 28 years.

These findings were summarized in a special section of the Colorado study, titled “The Feldman Report.”

Feldman, who directs the Center for Innovation, said her team was honored to help Colorado better understand the drivers behind the high drug prices its citizens are facing.

“Unfortunately, many of the drug pricing issues identified in Colorado, and elsewhere in the country, are complex and systemic,” Feldman said. “Solving high drug prices and fair access will require meaningful policy changes at the state and federal levels, especially to drug patent policies.”

In the press release announcing the report, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that more than 40% of the Coloradans surveyed ration their insulin for cost reasons at least once a year. The report concluded with a list of recommendations designed to move Colorado forward, including improved transparency of insulin pricing, bulk purchasing, mandatory coverage for diabetes supplies, and changes in patent and drug purchasing laws at the federal level.

“We must take the necessary actions,” Weiser said, “so that none of our residents ever has to ration their medication just to survive.”