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Whitmer issues insulin-related directive

Diabetes blood glucose level
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Man testing his blood glucose level.

A handful of state departments have to figure out ways to lower the cost of insulin in Michigan by mid-December.

That’s under a directive issued by the governor Monday.

The Department of Insurance and Financial Services is among the affected agencies. Director Anita Fox said there will be a collaborative effort to write reports.

“Whether it’s insurance companies, manufacturers, other states that have been doing something similar, we’re going to try and all come together and come up with something that is: what is the most cost effective, quickest way to bring down the cost for Michiganders?” Fox said.

The reports will consider possibilities like developing, producing, and buying the state’s own bio-similar insulin products.

Anita Fox said this effort is shooting for new, creative solutions to high insulin prices.

“Are there public-private partnerships to explore? Maybe we could work to provide insulin here and to other states and bring jobs to Michigan and bring down costs at the same time. There may be many ways we haven’t thought of before,” Fox said.

Other focuses Fox mentioned involve looking at the insurance system for ways to work around factors like high deductibles that can limit how much control her department has over insulin pricing.

Insulin manufacturers say the conversation around insulin pricing should also focus more on insurers and intermediaries known as “Pharmacy Benefit Managers,” or PBMs.

Stami Williams is a spokesperson for the industry group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

“Patients deserve relief – and that’s why we are advocating for commonsense solutions to help people pay less out of pocket for their insulin, like requiring health insurance companies and middlemen to share the rebates and savings they receive with patients at the pharmacy counter,” Williams said.

For its role, PhRMA has supported ideas for lowering insulin that fall outside of the production chain. Those include having insurers and PBMs offer rebates, changing incentive structures the group says harm patients, and cost-sharing assistance programs.

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