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Whitmer signs executive directive exploring lower costs, possible manufacturing of insulin

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - An executive directive signed Monday by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will explore ways to lower the cost and possibly manufacture insulin in the state.

The executive directive seeks to determine how the state can lower the cost of insulin, including by developing its own manufacturing capabilities. 

Officials say the executive directive tasks state departments with evaluating options for the state to lower the cost of insulin, including:

  • Development, in conjunction with a partner or partners, of a low-cost insulin product for distribution in Michigan. 
  • Production, purchase and/or distribution of low-cost insulin products. 
  • Establishment of a Michigan-based insulin manufacturing facility, including any potential sites for such facility. 
  • Any additional actions that the state could take that would feasibly lower insulin costs for consumers

The executive directive can be viewed here. 

"The American people pay ten times more for insulin than citizens of other comparable nations and costs have tripled over the last decade alone," Whitmer said in a statement. "I am confident that the Michigan departments I have tasked in this directive will take swift action to determine feasibility, and together, we will lower the cost of insulin, hold drug companies accountable, and save lives."

Michigan is home to more than 912,000 Michiganders with diabetes.

A century ago, Michigan opened a state facility to manufacture cost-effective, life-saving medicine for a variety of illnesses, according to a release by the Governor's office. 

Officials say people with diabetes, on average, have more than twice the medical expenses than those who do not. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, insulin can cost ten times more in the U.S. than in other similar countries.

"Access to insulin can make all the difference to the health of nearly one million Michiganders suffering from diabetes," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive. "But high prices make it difficult for many diabetics to access the insulin they need to manage their condition. 

"Many individuals suffering from diabetes have to make life-threatening choices about forgoing or rationing insulin so they can cover their family's other financial needs including food, shelter and utilities. Reducing the cost of insulin will make help improve the health of our state's residents by ensuring they have access to the medications they need."

In January, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced she was seeking court approval to investigate Eli Lilly and Co., accusing the drugmaker of charging excessive prices for insulin medications used to treat diabetes.

Nessel's filings asked an Ingham County judge to authorize a probe under the state consumer protection law, including the use of subpoenas to get records and to interview company officials. 

On Monday, Nessel said she filed a bypass application to take the case directly to Michigan Supreme Court "to hear arguments for why the state's consumer protection act has been wrongly interpreted for too long. "

"No Michigander should forgo life-saving medicine because they cannot afford to pay the price set by drug companies," Nessel said on Monday. "Enough is enough."

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