March 5, 2019
About 1.25 million Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes—a serious condition in which the body fails to properly regulate blood sugar—and for them, buying insulin is a “do or die” decision.
Thus, when the price of prescription insulin at U.S. pharmacies began to rise rapidly within the past few years—more than tripling from $300 for a 90-day prescription to $1,000 or more today—they and their families began having to choose between other necessities and the price of the life-saving hormone.
N o generic version of the drug existed, and three manufacturers—Eli Lilly (Indianapolis), Sanofi (Paris), and Novo Nordisk (Bagsværd, Denmark)—control 99% of the market
Now, Eli Lilly has announced that it will step up to help patients nationwide-offering a 50% lower-priced generic version of Humalog (insulin lispro injection 100 units/mL) at pharmacies in the United States.
“We’ve engaged in discussions about the price of insulin with many different stakeholders in America’s health care system: people living with diabetes, caregivers, advocacy groups, health care professionals, payers, wholesalers, lawmakers, and leading health care scholars,” said Lilly’s CEO David A. Ricksin a company release, adding, “Solutions that lower the cost of insulin at the pharmacy have been introduced in recent months, but more people need help. We’re eager to bring forward a low-priced rapid-acting insulin.
“The significant rebates we pay on insulins do not directly benefit all patients. This needs to change,” Ricks said. “There are numerous ideas, including the rebate reform proposal from HHS. For people with diabetes, a lower-priced insulin can serve as a bridge that addresses gaps in the system until a more sustainable model is achieved.”
The lower-priced version will be called Insulin Lispro—the same molecule as Humalog—and will be available in vial and pen options. The list price of a single vial will be $137.35. The list price of a five-pack of KwikPens will be $265.20.
Vials and pens of the lower-priced insulin have been manufactured, and Lilly will now work with supply chain partners to make them available in pharmacies as quickly as possible. It will be made available as an authorized generic through a Lilly subsidiary, ImClone Systems.
Humalog also will remain available for people who want to continue accessing it through their current insurance plans. Introducing an alternative insulin option allows Lilly to provide a lower-priced insulin more quickly while providing payers time to renegotiate downstream contracts and adjust to new system economics.
“While this change is a step in the right direction, all of us in the health care community must do more to fix the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for Americans living with chronic conditions,” Ricks said. “We hope our announcement is a catalyst for positive change across the U.S. healthcare system.”
Lilly’s Insulin Lispro is one of many initiatives the company has introduced to deliver lower out-of-pocket options to people living with diabetes. After exploring the logistics and feasibility of an authorized generic, Lilly began preparing manufacturing, labeling, and shipping plans last year for the possibility of Lilly’s Insulin Lispro. People should call the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center at (833) 808-1234 to learn whether Lilly’s Insulin Lispro, or another option, is the best financial choice for them.
Humalog and Insulin Lispro are available by prescription only.
Research contact: @LillyPad