California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Thursday that his state will be producing its own “low cost” insulin, stating, “People should not go into debt to get lifesaving medication.”
Newsom said that the state budget he recently signed includes $100 million for California to “contract and make [its] own insulin at a cheaper price, close to at cost, and to make it available to all.”
He said $50 million of that budget will go to the development of the low cost insulin, while the additional $50 million will go toward a California-based manufacturing facility for the drug, which Newsom claims “will provide new, high-paying jobs and a stronger supply chain.”
Newsom also noted in his announcement that he had signed an executive order his first day in office to put California on the path to creating its own prescription drugs, touting that “now it’s happening.”
“Nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin,” Newsom stated, going on to say that “many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs ranging anywhere from $300 to $500 per month for this lifesaving drug.”
The action comes amid a push on Capitol Hill to cap insulin costs. A bipartisan insulin bill from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) is expected to be voted on as soon as this month.
Collins has urged her Republican colleagues to support the bill. However, some Republicans have pushed back on the measure with concerns that it would be too expensive or interfere too much in the free market.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats removed a provision in a separate drug pricing bill to cap patients’ insulin costs at $35 per month, a goal which has been a high selling point for Democrats, including President Biden, for their economic package.
The insulin provision is also part of the bipartisan insulin bill from Shaheen and Collins, which will require support from at least 10 Republican senators in order to clear a filibuster and pass.
By contrast, the Democratic-only drug pricing measure is a part of Biden’s economic package, which uses a process known as reconciliation to bypass a GOP filibuster, meaning it can pass with only 50 Democratic votes.