Drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company, one of the major three in the U.S. that sells insulin, said it would cut prices by significant amounts and increase the ability to access one of its programs that limits costs out of pocket for insulin to $35 a month.
“Lilly is taking these actions to make it easier to access Lilly insulin and help Americans who may have difficulty navigating a complex healthcare system that may keep them from getting affordable insulin,” the company wrote in the Wednesday press release.
The cost of insulin has been a major issue in the U.S., a country that generates 50% of revenue from insulin despite making up just 15% of the worldwide market, per a 2015 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network. Insulin manufacturers in the U.S., have been, as one 2020 study put it, “insulated” from competition due to regulatory barriers and intellectual property issues.
People have died while rationing insulin they could not afford. List prices of insulin from 2007 to 2018 increased by 262%, per a study published in the JAMA in 2020. Over eight million people need insulin to survive, per the American Diabetes Association.
Eli Lilly and Company faced controversy in November 2022 when, in the wake of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and overhaul of the verification process, an account posing as the company Tweeted insulin would be free, sending the company’s stock plunging.
On Wednesday, the company said it would take several actions to reduce insulin prices. Its non-branded insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection’s list price will be cut to $25 per vial.
Humalog and Humulin’s list prices will go down by 70% by the fourth quarter of 2023, it added. The company further said the newer drug Rezvoglar would cost $92 for a five-pack, effective April 1, 2023.
Finally, the company outlined how it will limit out-of-pocket costs: “Effective immediately, Lilly will automatically cap out-of-pocket costs at $35 at participating retail pharmacies for people with commercial insurance using Lilly insulin,” the company wrote.
However, according to the footnote, the company says this will be at the “majority of retail pharmacies.” It will not cover people who are on federal government insurance programs due to “government restrictions” (but the law already does require that people who have Medicare Part D, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, pay no more than $35 a month for insulin, as the company noted).
The company said people without insurance “can continue to go to InsulinAffordability.com and immediately download the Lilly Insulin Value Program savings card to receive Lilly insulins for $35 per month.”
Insulin companies have faced lawsuits over the price of insulin, but Eli Lilly maintains the average out-of-pocket cost for someone purchasing insulin is $21.80, per The New York Times.