[Ed. note: This post has been updated with a comment from Leonard C. Glass, MD, FACE, senior vice president, Lilly Diabetes and Obesity, Global Medical Affairs, Eli Lilly and Company]
Eli Lilly and Company today announced price reductions of 70% for its most commonly prescribed insulins and an expansion of its Insulin Value Program that caps patient out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less per month. Lilly is taking these actions to make it easier to access insulin and help Americans who may have difficulty navigating a complex healthcare system that may keep them from getting affordable insulin.
Lilly is reducing the list price of insulins by:
- Cutting the list price of its non-branded insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection 100 units/mL, to $25 a vial. Effective May 1, 2023, it will be the lowest list-priced mealtime insulin available, and less than the price of a Humalog® vial in 1999.
- Cutting the list price of Humalog® (insulin lispro injection) 100 units/mL1, Lilly’s most commonly prescribed insulin, and Humulin® (insulin human) injection 100 units/mL2 by 70%, effective in Q4 2023.
- Launching RezvoglarTM (insulin glargine-aglr) injection, a basal insulin that is biosimilar to, and interchangeable with, Lantus® (insulin glargine) injection, for $92 per five pack of KwikPens®, a 78% discount to Lantus, effective April 1, 2023.
As reported by Endocrine News in November 2021, a paper had appeared in Mayo Clinic Proceedings the previous year, which detailed the account of a patient with type 1 diabetes in his mid-20s who worked as a restaurant manager in Minnesota. He couldn’t afford the deductible and monthly premiums of his insurance, and he couldn’t afford to pay for his insulin with cash, so he tried to ration his insulin. He was found dead in his apartment from diabetic ketoacidosis.
“Insulin pricing is complex and there are many stakeholders in the supply chain,” Rita Kalyani, MD, associate professor and clinical researcher in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore said at the time. “It will require all parties involved including manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, healthcare providers, pharmacies, administrators, and employers to come together to address this problem.”
David A. Ricks, Lilly’s Chair and CEO, called on those stakeholders to come together to not only make insulin affordable, but accessible, and to help patients navigate the complex U.S. healthcare system. “The aggressive price cuts we’re announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes,” Ricks says. “We are driving for change in repricing older insulins, but we know that 7 out of 10 Americans don’t use Lilly insulin. We are calling on policymakers, employers, and others to join us in making insulin more affordable.”
Again, it’s going to take pressure, and it’s going to take time. That, and everyone coming together to make the effort so that by 2121, we won’t have to read stories about 20-year-olds dying from not being able to afford a very old, very essential drug.
Ricks agrees. “The next hundred years needs to be better for people living with diabetes,” he says.
“As an endocrinologist and person with diabetes, I know first-hand how vital insulin is to managing this chronic condition,” says Leonard C. Glass, MD, FACE, senior vice president of Lilly Diabetes and Obesity and Global Medical Affairs for Eli Lilly and Company. “No one with diabetes should have to make tradeoffs when it comes to their health. Today’s announcement builds on years of efforts to close gaps in the US healthcare system to help ensure everyone who needs insulin for the treatment of diabetes may be able to obtain it affordably. We hope these changes are a catalyst for positive change.”