Consumers rely on listed prices being accurate. Imagine walking into your favorite store, bringing your desired item to the counter, and being told that the price you had to pay had little relation to the listed price. Remarkable as it is, this is commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson recently filed a lawsuit challenging deceptive pricing among insulin manufacturers Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, and Eli Lilly. The complaint alleges that the list prices charged by these companies have little to do with the actual prices paid by consumers. The complaint also alleges that such deceptive pricing harms patients who have high-deductible health plans, patients who have no insurance or pay coinsurance, and patients who are Medicare beneficiaries or in the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

With list prices having little to do with reality, pricing in the pharmaceutical industry is notoriously secretive and misleading. In shining a bright light on this model, this lawsuit promises to be important.