DOWNEY, Calif. -- Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday announced a partnership with a nonprofit generic drug company to provide insulin to Californians for $30 for 10 milliliters -- which he said was as little as one-tenth of the current cost.
Newsom visited a Kaiser Permanente warehouse in Downey as part of his ongoing tour of the state discussing his administrative policies in lieu of a traditional State of the State address.
He praised the 10-year partnership as a way to lower the health-care burden for residents without "subsidizing costs or socializing costs" but to address the "underlying" costs.
The program, which will be administered through CalRx, was characterized by the governor as "market disruption," which he hoped would prompt major drug companies to lower their prices for the drug.
"This a big deal for us. This is not happening anywhere else in the United States," the governor said.
"Diabetes has become an overwhelmingly expensive chronic condition, and it is heartbreaking that millions of people in California and across the U.S. are faced with the possibility of having to ration their care and put their lives at risk because they can no longer afford insulin," Civica President and CEO Ned McCoy said. "We applaud California for its mission- driven commitment to lowering the cost of insulin and look forward to our groundbreaking partnership on behalf of people living with diabetes."
Newsom said manufacturing is set to begin later this year, and added that he anticipates "favorable treatment" from the FDA, and hopes to see delivery begin next year.
Also announced Saturday was a deal that would allow California to manufacture its own lower-cost Naloxone, or Narcan, the drug that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose and is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
Officials said the insulin deal was only the beginning of what they hoped would be a wider program of similar deals.
"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 along with Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Han, Downey Mayor Claudia Frometa and others. "We are going to look for other opportunities, (for savings)."
Indeed, Newsom said "next up" would be meloxil.
"No one should have to choose between paying for the prescription medicine that keeps them alive and paying their rent or putting food on the table," Hand said. "This new partnership to manufacture insulin and make it available for just $30 will be life-changing for families. I applaud the governor's ambitious effort and his commitment to taking on the challenges Californians are facing."
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."
Jones added: "While I appreciate the governor's passion and creativity to address rising health care and prescription drug costs, the priority right now should be saving the health care system we currently have. Without immediate action, millions of Californians won't have access to doctors, nurses, and hospital services."
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.
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