Eli Lilly announced Wednesday that it will price its insulin at $35 a month. Experts say the move could encourage other US insulin makers to follow suit.
According to Lilly, the change will go into effect immediately and will align with provisions of the Controlled Inflation Act that capped insulin copayments for seniors with Medicare last month at $35 a month.
Insulin manufacturers continue to come under pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups to reduce the cost of life-saving drugs.
The cost of insulin in the United States is notoriously high compared to costs in other countries, with public policy think tank Rand Corporation estimating that the average list price for a bottle of insulin in the United States was $98.70 in 2018. ing.
People with private insurance are automatically capped. Those without insurance are eligible if they enroll in Lilly’s copay assistance program.
That program began offering insulin for under $35 a month to patients with or without insurance in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic.
The cap applies to all Lilly insulin products, said company spokeswoman Kelly Smith. In addition to the cost cap, the company plans to cut list prices on several products this year, including Humalog.
About 8.4 million people with diabetes are dependent on insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association. Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi dominate the insulin market.
According to Smith, three out of 10 insulin-dependent diabetics use Eli Lilly products.
In November, Lilly’s stock price plummeted after a fake account tweeted, “Make insulin for free,” bringing renewed attention to the cost.
In addition to political pressure, Lilly also faces the threat of competition from outside the industry, said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of health policy at KFF, formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Lehi, Utah-based nonprofit CivicaRx announced last year that it plans to manufacture and sell generic insulin to consumers for under $30 a bottle and under $55 for a box of five pen cartridges. . California also plans to make low-cost insulin, as does Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs, which sells low-cost drugs over the Internet.
“Eli Lilly must have realized this,” says Levitt.
Stacey Ducetzina, a professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, agrees that the move is likely due to increased competition.
“The company is reacting to the enormous existing and future competition for these drugs,” she said.
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