Eli Lilly to cut insulin prices by 70 percent

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By Amit


Eli Lilly said it is slashing the prices of commonly prescribed insulin drugs by 70 percent while capping related out-of-pocket costs at $35 a month, a move meant to help address long-standing concerns about the high cost of diabetes care.

In Wednesday’s announcement, the company said that it wants to make it easier for patients to afford the lifesaving medication, and CEO David Ricks called on other pharmaceutical companies to follow suit.

“While the current healthcare system provides access to insulin for most people with diabetes, it still does not provide affordable insulin for everyone and that needs to change,” Ricks said in a news release.

The company’s nonbranded insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection, will drop from $82.41 to $25 per vial, making it the lowest-priced mealtime insulin available, according to the company. Humalog, its most commonly prescribed insulin, will drop 70 percent from its price of $530.40 for a five-pack of insulin pens to roughly $160. Eli Lilly is also launching a new insulin product it calls Rezvoglar, which it says is interchangeable with medication by competitor Sanofi but costs 78 percent less.

Insulin is an important hormone, made by the pancreas, that helps glucose enter red blood cells, where it is used for energy. People with diabetes have a chronic insulin deficiency and typically take regular injections to stay healthy. About 37 million Americans live with diabetes, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Insulin costs can weigh on lower- and middle-income individuals with diabetes, as well as their families. The cost of some medications more than doubled between 2007 and 2018, according to the medical journal Lancet, with some people paying more than $1,000 when higher doses are required.

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In recent years the “big three” insulin-makers, which include Eli Lilly along with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, have introduced programs to reduce the financial burden on patients. In 2020, Novo Nordisk rolled out a $99 cash card program along with 50 price reductions on some of its branded products. Sanofi aligned itself with the Medicare Part D plan in 2021, giving seniors on that plan a $35-per-month cap.

More recently, President Biden has singled insulin out as a cost that needs to be brought under control. In his State of the Union address last month, he called on Congress to pass a provision that would cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month in the private insurance market.

“Last year, I signed a law to cap insulin at $35 for seniors and I called on pharma companies to bring prices down for everyone on their own. Today, Eli Lilly did that,” Biden said in a statement. “It’s a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow.”

Some 7 million Americans require insulin daily. A Yale University study published in July 2022 found that 14 percent of those insulin users are spending at least 40 percent of their income after food and housing costs on the medicine.

Congressional Democrats and the administration tried to pass such a measure last year, but it was modified after objections from Senate Republicans to apply only to people on Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors. This year, the $35-per-month cap began applying to all patients on Medicare Part D, according to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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