In a monumental move, drugmaker Eli Lilly announced it will reduce its insulin prices by 70%, capping the cost for customers at $35 a month, and while it will bring relief for millions, it comes too late for some.
Lilly caps insulin cost at $35 a month, a 70% reduction
One of the foremost price reductions the federal government had on its agenda after Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which grants Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices, was reducing insulin costs.
On Wednesday, in a press release, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) 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.”
Biden applauds insulin price reduction
After Lily’s announcement, President Joe Biden applauded the move, CNN reported.
“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,” Biden said. “Today, Eli Lilly did that. It’s a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow.”
“For far too long, American families have been crushed by drug costs many times higher than what people in other countries are charged for the same prescriptions,” the president said. “Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it. It’s flat wrong.”
When will new insulin prices go into effect?
According to Lilly, effective April 1, 2023, it is “[l]aunching Rezvoglar™ (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 May 1, 2023, the list price of its non-branded insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection 100 units/mL, to $25 a vial… it will be the lowest list-priced mealtime insulin available, and less than the price of a Humalog® vial in 1999.”
Effective Q4 2023, “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%.”
Price reduction comes too late for some
For some diabetes sufferers, the reduction in prices comes too late, as the high cost of insulin caused some diabetics to either ration their insulin or could not afford the drug at all, leading to a number of deaths, according to a 2021 study.
Estimates say there are nearly 8.5 million diabetics in America who rely on insulin to control their blood sugar levels, CBS reported. Nearly all of the US supply of insulin comes from three companies. Despite its low production costs, the average cost of insulin has more than tripled in the US in this century.
For example, Eli Lilly’s Humalog cost $21 per vial when it came on the market in 1996. Since that time, the price has jumped to $274.70. When Eli Lilly’s new price changes go into effect, it will drop to $66.40.