By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison wants to lower the price of prescription drugs, and he is hoping a new citizens task force will help make that happen.

Ellison was at the Capitol Thursday sharing stories of Minnesotans who have had to ration or skip drugs because they couldn’t afford them.

Nicole Smith-Holt has been an outspoken advocate for lower prescription drug prices after her 26-year-old son Alec died in 2017 after rationing his insulin.

“The only reason that Alec was rationing his medication was that the price over the last 20 years has risen over 1,200 percent,” Smith-Holt said. “The price of my son’s life was $1,300 a month for insulin and supplies.”

Christy Kuehn is in the same position. Her husband has been cutting his insulin prescription in half because of the price.

(credit: CBS)

“The cost of my husband’s insulin refill is $2,200, and the exact same medication in Canada is $500,” Kuehn said. “The impact is devastating. It’s been awful, it’s been a stressful thing that we deal with every day, sleepless nights. My husband is ill quite frequently, so it really impacts our lives drastically.”

And it’s not just diabetes. Alisa Clemons suffers from lupus.

“This is not Republican, this is not Democrat. This is a people problem,” Clemons said.

Ellison is forming an advisory task force aimed at lowering pharmaceutical drug prices.

“These folks can literally not afford their lives, and this should not happen in our Minnesota or our United States,” Ellison said.

The secretary of state’s office is currently accepting citizen applications to the task force on their website.

Minnesota currently has a federal lawsuit pending against three different manufacturers of insulin.

The concern about increased drug prices is bipartisan. President Donald Trump has demanded price cuts, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar has authored legislation which would require insulin makers to lower costs if they don’t voluntarily agree to do so.

Esme Murphy