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Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner files lawsuit with hopes of lowering price of insulin

Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner files lawsuit against nearly 20 pharmaceutical companies
Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner files lawsuit against nearly 20 pharmaceutical companies 02:19

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A lawsuit filed Monday by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner aims to lower the price of insulin.

Millions of Americans have diabetes, including about 14% of adults in Philadelphia. And while there's been a lot of action to lower insulin prices, Krasner said it's not enough. 

"This is a story about profits over patients," Krasner said. "This is a story about price fixing."

For Krasner, it's personal – the skyrocketing cost of insulin used by millions of diabetics. 

"I am a diabetic," Krasner said. "I was diagnosed about 15 years ago."

Krasner filed a lawsuit against nearly 20 pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers for colluding to inflate the price of insulin that's used to control blood sugar levels. 

"My life and well-being depend on uninterrupted access to insulin," said Jesse Braxton, who is a diabetic. 

Braxton, a Philadelphia high school teacher, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 5. 

"The cost to produce a vial of insulin is between 3 and $6," Braxton said. "Yet last year, the out-of-pocket cost for a vial of insulin, which is enough to last about three weeks for me, was nearly $300."

Insulin prices vary depending on different insurance plans. For people who don't have coverage, it can be catastrophic. Even for people with insurance, like Krasner, there can be challenges and glitches

"And all of a sudden, I have a pharmacist telling me that the continuous glucose meter that you wear will be $997 for the month, rather than $12," Krasner said.

The new lawsuit comes as Medicare, some states and manufacturers have dropped insulin prices but it's not uniform.

There's also been frustration with pharmaceutical companies. 

"It's obscene, the profits that are made," Philadelphia nurse Maureen May said. "People need insulin to live. Why profiteering is allowed? I have no idea."

The drug makers and pharmacies named in the lawsuit said it's baseless and some of the companies we asked for comment said they have lowered prices and have a variety of programs helping patients with costs.

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