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Health Highlights: Jan. 30, 2017

Insulin Makers Conspired to Raise Prices: Lawsuit Dutch Government Launches Birth Control Fund for Women in Developing Nations

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Insulin Makers Conspired to Raise Prices: Lawsuit

Three makers of insulin conspired to boost the prices of the lifesaving diabetes drug, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Massachusetts.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, and three manufacturers -- Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eil Lilly -- have raised the list prices of their insulin in near unison, The New York Times reported.

The price increases have triggered anger among patient groups and doctors, who say the rising cost of insulin appears to have little to do with higher production costs.

"People who have to pay out of pocket for insulin are paying enormous prices, when they shouldn't be," Steve Berman, a lawyer for the patients, told The Times.

The lawsuits alleges that the three companies increased the list prices on their insulin in order to win favor with pharmacy benefit managers, who team with drug makers and health insurers to determine how a drug will be covered on a list of approved drugs.

While benefit managers are complicit, the lawsuit targets the drug makers because "they are playing the game, and they are the ones who publish the list price," Berman said.

Representatives for the three drug companies could not immediately be reached for comment, The Times reported.

The lawsuit includes several examples of diabetes patients who can't afford the up-to-$900 cost of their insulin and have resorted to using expired insulin or starving themselves to control their blood sugar.


Dutch Government Launches Birth Control Fund for Women in Developing Nations

The Dutch government has launched and made an initial $10.7 million contribution to an international fund to provide birth control, abortion and sex education for women in developing countries.

The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump cut funding for such services, the Associated Press reported.

The fund is called "She Decides -- Global Fundraising Initiative" and will be managed by the Rutgers Foundation, an international sexual health and rights group based on the Netherlands.

The fund will "prevent women and girls being abandoned," Lilianne Ploumen, Holland's minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, said. "Because they, too, must be able to decide for themselves if they want children, with whom and when."

Trump reinstated a ban on U.S. funding to international groups that provide abortions or even just information about abortions. Since 1984, the ban has been implemented by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones. President Barack Obama last lifted it in 2009, the AP reported.

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