CalRx CivitaRX
Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his insulin plan. Photo credit:

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a partnership with Civica Rx Saturday to provide insulin to Californians for $30 a vial – which he said was about one-tenth of the current cost.

Newsom revealed the price, for 10 milliliters of insulin, as he visited a Kaiser Permanente warehouse in Downey as part of his ongoing tour of the state discussing his administrative policies.

His tour, in lieu of a traditional State of the State address, continues Sunday in San Diego with an event focusing on mental health care.

The governor called the 10-year partnership with Civica Rx, a Utah-based nonprofit, a way to lower the health-care burden for residents without “subsidizing costs or socializing costs.” He called the move a way to address the “underlying” costs.

Republicans, though, including state Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones, whose 40th District includes offices in El Cajon and Escondido, said Newsom’s plan fails to address broader healthcare issues.

The insulin program, which will be administered through the state via 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,” Newsom 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.

He added that the nonprofit applauds “California for its mission-driven commitment to lowering the cost of insulin.”

Newsom said the manufacturing process 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 produce its own lower-cost naloxone, 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, among others. “We are going to look for other opportunities, (for savings).”

Indeed, Newsom said “next up” would be meloxil, an anti-inflammatory drug.

California Senate Republicans, however, said the focus should be on saving the state’s hospital system, blaming “years of underfunded Medi-Cal reimbursements (that) have resulted in hospitals throughout the state not being able to pay their bills, putting them on the brink of collapse.”

Jones noted “the governor’s passion and creativity” on the cost issue, but said he’s off target.

“This is a self-inflicted crisis of epic proportions that is putting lives on the line,” the state senator said. “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: “… 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.

– City News Service