Savings on insulin jumped last year for Minnesota residents under the state's safety net program, which lawmakers created to help patients struggling to afford the biologic medicine.

Three manufacturers collectively provided nearly $6.9 million worth of insulin in 2021, according to numbers released this month by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. That was up from more than $2.1 million during the program's first six months of operation in 2020.

Up to 1,177 residents received insulin last year through the program, compared with 465 residents in 2020.

The totals might overstate how many residents benefitted, since the tallies would double-count any individual who accessed insulin through the program on both an emergency and longer-term basis, the pharmacy board said in its April 1 report.

Minnesota is one of several states, along with the federal lawmakers, to adopt or consider legislation to make insulin more affordable. It's a crucial biologic for many people living with diabetes.

This spring, a nonprofit group backed in part by Rochester-based Mayo Clinic announced plans to manufacture and sell insulin by 2024 in order to lower prices on insulin. Walmart also has a program that makes available lower-cost supplies for patients.

Minnesota's urgent need program allows for a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin at the pharmacy for a $35 copay.

It's open to patients with less than a seven-day supply of insulin who face significant health consequences if they run out. They also must have a current prescription and face monthly payments of more than $75 for insulin.

State residents needing longer-term help can apply for a continuing need program that provides 90-day refills for no more than $50 each.

Eligibility is limited to those who pay more than $75 per month for a 30-day supply of insulin. It also depends on a family's income and whether they have access to other coverage.

Three drug companies participated in the program during 2021 — Indiana-based Eli Lilly, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, which is based in France. Collectively, they supplied about $5.8 million worth of insulin through the continuing need program and nearly $1.1 million of the biologic medicine for patients with urgent needs.

The pharmacy board noted that additional Minnesota residents may have benefited from separate patient assistance programs operated by manufacturers.

A trade group for pharmaceutical companies has sued to block the state program, but it continues to operate as the litigation moves through the courts.