California will manufacture more affordable insulin in a partnership with nonprofit generic drugmaker Civica Rx, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday during a visit to Southern California.
The partnership will provide insulin to Californians for $30 per 10 milliliters, the governor said during a stop at a Kaiser warehouse in Downey. The visit is part of a statewide tour to highlight policies — a road trip alternative to the governor’s traditional State of the State address.
The 10-year partnership will be administered through Cal Rx. Manufacturing is expected to begin later this year with deliveries coming next year, Newsom said.
“This a big deal for us,” Newsom said.
As part of the $50 million contract, Civica will produce three insulins — glargine, lispro and aspart. They will be available in vials and pre-filled pens with the Cal Rx label.
It was not immediately clear where the products will be manufactured.
Newsom also announced Saturday a plan allowing California to manufacture its own lower-cost Naloxone, or Narcan. The potentially life-saving drug reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
“We’re starting with insulin, but we’re not stopping there,” said Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state’s Health and Human Services Department, who joined Newsom for the announcement. “We are going to look for other opportunities, (for savings).”
Republicans said action was needed to save the state’s hospital system, but blamed “years of underfunded Medi-Cal reimbursements have resulted in hospitals throughout the state not being able to pay their bills, putting them on the brink of collapse.”
“This is a self-inflicted crisis of epic proportions that is putting lives on the line,” said Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones, R-San Diego. “While Newsom makes a stop on his statewide tour to talk about health care, he’s missing the mark — there are families currently without access to emergency services and millions more who may be at-risk if the governor does not act quickly.”
The governor began his tour Thursday in Sacramento, where he discussed plans to build 1,200 small homes across the state to address homelessness, followed by an address Friday centered on a plan to overhaul San Quentin State Prison.
Newsom’s tour will continue Sunday in San Diego with an event focusing on mental health care.
At the national level, efforts to pass laws capping the price of insulin for uninsured Americans or those with private insurance failed in the Democratic-controlled Congress last year.
President Biden, however, has still championed last year’s bill as a success for the millions of Americans who aren’t on Medicare. Drug companies, facing public pressure after tripling their prices for the life-saving drug over the last two decades, have started to voluntarily lower the cost of insulin. Drugmaker Novo Nordisk announced Tuesday it was cutting the cost of insulin to about $72 a vial, on the heels of an announcement from rival Eli Lilly that it would start selling its generic for $25.
“This builds on the important progress we made last year when I signed a law to cap insulin at $35 for seniors,” Biden said in a statement on Tuesday on Novo Nordisk’s announcement. “I urge all other manufacturers to follow suit and Republicans in Congress to join us and cap insulin at $35 for all Americans.”