A six-year class-action lawsuit against insulin maker Eli Lilly has come to an end after the company agreed to pay plaintiffs $13.5 million.

Federal court records filed on May 26 in New Jersey show that Lilly agreed to the settlement, along with a cap on out-of-pockets cost for its insulin at $35 per month for four years.

The Indianapolis-based company was sued in 2017, along with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, accused of overpricing insulin in lockstep with one another. The suit claims the manufacturers colluded with pharmacy benefits managers to fix insulin prices, which violated federal antitrust laws. It also stated that the price of insulin, previously set at $25, was raised to between $300 and $450, causing significant strain on the consumer who needed the lifesaving drugs.

“The settlement will provide cash and extensive forward-looking relief to Settlement Class Members now rather than waiting years to obtain any potential recovery at trial,” court records stated.

A judge must sign off on the settlement. Lilly continues to deny allegations of wrongdoing. Novo Nordisk and Sanofi have yet to settle the case.

Skyrocketing Insulin Prices Lead to Rationing

Insulin is estimated to cost users almost $1,000 per month, resulting in patients rationing the medicine by skipping doses, using less than required or postponing buying the medicine. Those actions could lead to more health problems, according to a study published in October 2022 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Drug companies have ramped up prices on insulin year after year, even for products that remain completely unchanged,” said study author Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at the City University of New York’s Hunter College and research associate at Public Citizen, in a press release at the time. “Drug firms are making vast profits at the expense of the health, and even the lives, of patients.”

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden called on Congress to limit insulin costs for all patients to $35 per month, according to a report by CNBC. A month later, Lilly announced it would drop prices on its Type 1 diabetes treatment. Shortly afterward, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi also dropped their prices. Three months later, Lilly agreed to the settlement. 

Settlement to Help Millions in U.S.

Millions of Americans who suffer from diabetes use insulin to treat the condition. There are roughly 5.8 million adults with Type 2 diabetes and 1.4 million adults with Type 1 diabetes. Another half-million Americans suffer from “other or unknown diabetes types” that require insulin use, according to the study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The settlement will help insulin users in several ways, according to court documents.

“First, the settlement ensures Lilly’s insulins remain affordable. Any eligible user of Lilly insulin can purchase a covered Lilly insulin product at a total out-of-pocket expense of $35 per month,” federal court records show. 

“If approved, the settlement enjoins Lilly by requiring Lilly to continue its Affordability Solutions for the covered Lilly insulins for four years, capping that Class Member’s out-of-pocket cost for a month’s supply of covered insulin products at $35,” the suit reads. “Plaintiffs’ expert estimates the total value of this forward-looking relief at over $500 million.”