GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan lawmakers are looking at ways to help lower the cost of insulin, including taking matters in to the state’s hands.
State Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, has reached out to Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Pfizer to see if the state could become its own manufacturer for the medication.
His bill to create a state-run manufacturer is in its infancy stage and has not yet been introduced to the Legislature, but VanderWall is optimistic that he’ll get bipartisan support.
“There’s been a series of bills that have come out of the House,” he said. “We’re just trying to complete one that actually will give the patient or the consumer that needs to take insulin an opportunity to have a quality product at an affordable price.
Insulin helps patients regulate their blood sugar levels. The average cost has tripled over the last decade. According to the American Diabetes Association, 865,000 people in Michigan have diabetes and need the medication to live.
VanderWall said some patients have resorted to rationing their dosages to save money.
“The option of the state getting back in to production, I think it’s out of the norm,” he said. “It’s kind of retooling an industry that we haven’t been involved in, but then we control the pricing.”
Dominick Pallone, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, said there are several state and federal hurdles Michigan would have to clear before VanderWall’s bill could pass.
“It’s not easy to just stand up a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant an distribution system,” Pallone said. “There are a lot of patient safety protections that need to be adhered to and monitored by the (Food and Drug Administration) throughout this process.”
However, Pallone added that if Michigan was able to succeed in becoming its own manufacturing and it keeps its intellectual property the cost of insulin within our state would decrease dramatically.
“Trying to do it where there would be low or no margin (of profit) being made as a manufacturer… (would add) to increased competition for the commercial space, as well, hopefully driving down insulin (prices) across the board,” he said.
VanderWall hopes to get the bill on the Senate floor before the start of summer break.