Eli Lilly Slashes Insulin Prices


Eli Lilly and Company World Headquarters | Image by Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Eli Lilly & Co., a major insulin manufacturer, has announced a significant reduction in the list prices of its two biggest-selling insulin products, Humalog and Humulin.

This price cut of 70% is expected to take effect in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a press release from the company.

Other changes will be made sooner, including a 78% discount to a five-pack of injectable KwikPens from April 1 and a price reduction of its unbranded insulin from $82 to $25 a vial from May 1.

Effective immediately, out-of-pocket costs have been capped at $35 a month for patients with commercial insurance or uninsured patients with an Eli Lilly savings card. Prescriptions must be filled at participating retail pharmacies, which includes the majority of all pharmacies, according to the release.

David A. Ricks, Eli Lilly’s chair and CEO, claimed in the release that these changes “should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes.”

The high cost of insulin has been a significant concern for Americans for many years, with 16.5% of users reporting rationing as a result of the price, according to CNN.

The American Diabetes Association reported that the average cost of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. This trend has continued, with the average retail price of insulin increasing by 54% between 2014 and 2019, per CNN.

Eli Lilly & Co.’s decision to alter its pricing strategy is a response to the mounting criticism faced by the company and other insulin manufacturers for their prices.

Some advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch have even argued that the difficulty for some patients to access insulin may constitute a human rights violation.

According to the CDC, diabetes is an incurable chronic condition in which a person’s body cannot produce or effectively use insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows the body to convert food into energy. Without it, blood sugar builds up in the bloodstream, causing serious health risks, including heart disease and kidney disease.

Approximately 37 million Americans have the condition, of which one in five aren’t aware they have it yet. As the CDC reports, around 97 million Americans have prediabetes, a precursor to type 2 diabetes that can only be avoided by rapid lifestyle changes.

As The Dallas Express recently reported, if current childhood obesity rates continue, 220,000 people under the age of 20 will have type 2 diabetes by 2060.

For those Americans living with diabetes today, approximately 30% rely on insulin from Eli Lilly.

Many have praised the company for its move to reduce the costs of its insulin.

In a press release, the American Diabetes Association lauded Eli Lilly for its moves and encouraged other insulin manufacturers to follow suit.

President Joe Biden issued a statement claiming that “American families have been crushed by drug costs many times higher than what people in other countries are charged for the same prescriptions” for far too long.

While drug manufacturers like Eli Lilly have been under intense scrutiny for years over high drug prices, drug pricing is subject to a number of factors beyond the manufacturers’ decisions.

The list prices for drugs do not reflect rebates paid and discounts given to “middlemen” known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBM). Three PBM companies serve roughly 75% of the market.

Prior to this week’s big move, Eli Lilly and other manufacturers countered criticism of high list prices for their drugs by explaining that they had to pay higher rebates to PBMs. This claim has been supported by research conducted at the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Policy and Economics.

It is yet to be seen how Eli Lilly’s bottom line will be affected by the price cuts to insulin, as well as whether other pharmaceutical manufacturers will follow suit with reductions.

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28 days ago

It’s too bad their and other brands of insulin costs more if you’re a diabetic on an insulin pump. They DO NOT pay $35. a month because it’s covered under Medicare Part B not Medicare Part D! The $35 a month applies to those who might still inject their insulin with a syringe or other device. I’m thinking most diabetics are on a pump these days. This is all Biden bluster!