Soaring prices for new diabetes medications and other lifesaving prescription drugs aren’t just straining consumers’ pocketbooks. They’re putting a dent in government budgets, too -- including California’s public worker pension system, the nation’s largest.
The price for just one brand-name insulin drug called Lantus has risen by 50 percent over three years, according to a California Healthline review of data provided by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
CalPERS spent nearly $4.7 million more on the injectable vials of insulin in 2014 than it did in 2012, even though the overall number of prescriptions declined. The pension system paid about $564 per prescription in 2014. State retirees pay a small portion of those costs in copayments.
CalPERS may receive rebates from the drug’s maker through discounts negotiated with CalPERS’ pharmacy benefit manager, CVS Caremark. Those discounts are not reflected in the spending figures.
CVS recently told insurers that it would drop Lantus from its formulary in favor of a cheaper substitute — although another company is taking over CalPERS pharmacy benefits next year.