(CNN VAN/Gray News) - A health insurer says a new program will help families who have to pay for lifesaving insulin.
Cigna announced Wednesday it's launching the Patient Assurance Program.
According to the company, the plan will cap out-of-pocket expenses for a 30-day supply of insulin at $25.
People with Type 1 diabetes don't produce it naturally in their body, and need it to regulate their blood sugar levels. Without it, they can die within days.
Cigna's announcement comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration announced it would bring competition to the insulin market. The federal agency sees it as a way to lower prices.
On average, Cigna says patients paid nearly $42 a month in out-of-pocket expenses for the drug last year. That includes deductibles, co-pays, or coinsurance.
Drug companies have been criticized by advocates for overcharging uninsured insulin patients. Parents have blamed the companies for the deaths of their children, who in some cases had to ration their insulin when they couldn't afford to pay as much as $1,000 a month for the vital hormone.
One report found a jump in prices for all types of insulin and insulin products. It noted point-of-sale prices roughly doubled between 2012 and 2016.
In October, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed suit against a trio of drug companies who effectively control the insulin market, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, alleging in a release that they "deceptively raised the list prices of insulin, making it less affordable to patients in high deductible plans, the uninsured, and senior citizens on Medicare."
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