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Newsom announces $50 million contract to make California's own brand of insulin

Taryn Luna and Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new $50-million contract with the nonprofit generic drugmaker Civica to produce insulin under the state’s own label during a news conference Saturday in Downey.

Newsom originally declared his intent to produce generic drugs three years ago in an attempt to lower the cost of pharmaceutical products for Californians who struggle to afford often life-saving medication. The deal with Civica would provide the first pharmaceutical product made under the CalRX brand of generic drugs.

Under the deal, a 10-milliliter vial — normally costing $300 — would be made available for the same $30 price it cost the state to manufacture and distribute the drug, according to the governor’s office. Newsom’s office said that as a result of such sharply reduced prices, patients who pay out of pocket for insulin would save between $2,000 and $4,000 annually.

“This is a big deal, folks,” Newsom said. “This is not happening anywhere else in the United States.”

The governor and other officials touted that doing so would lower costs across the board, not just for the consumer ultimately picking up the drug. That makes it different, Newsom said, than the recent announcements by pharmaceutical companies about reducing their insulin prices.

“Do not be misled. These companies that all of a sudden are jumping over each other to rush in this direction — they’re just providing discount cards,” he said. “Those costs are being borne by the plans. Those costs are being socialized and shifted to everybody else.”


“What this does,” he said, “is a game changer. This fundamentally lowers the cost. Period. Full stop.”

Californians could get the CalRx generic insulin at a local pharmacy or through mail-order pharmacies without a new prescription, state officials said, and it would be available to everyone regardless of their insurance plan. The next step is for Civica to identify a California-based manufacturing facility, according to the governor’s office.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that under the deal, Civica would commit to delivering as much insulin as California needs under the CalRx label. Civica said it would be manufacturing the three insulins most commonly used by U.S. citizens.

The governor said the state will turn next to manufacturing its own naloxone — a medication that can save lives by reversing opioid overdoses. The state is exploring opportunities to produce the drug as part of its plan to combat the deadly effects of fentanyl, an especially potent synthetic opioid, Newsom said.


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