Relief For Millions: Eli Lilly Caps Insulin Costs at $35 a Month

Eli Lil¬≠ly announced Wednes¬≠day that it will price its insulin at $35 a month. Experts say the move could encour¬≠age oth¬≠er US insulin mak¬≠ers to fol¬≠low suit.

Accord¬≠ing to Lil¬≠ly, the change will go into effect imme¬≠di¬≠ate¬≠ly and will align with pro¬≠vi¬≠sions of the Con¬≠trolled Infla¬≠tion Act that capped insulin copay¬≠ments for seniors with Medicare last month at $35 a month. 

Insulin man¬≠u¬≠fac¬≠tur¬≠ers con¬≠tin¬≠ue to come under pres¬≠sure from law¬≠mak¬≠ers and advo¬≠ca¬≠cy groups to reduce the cost of life-sav¬≠ing drugs.

The cost of insulin in the Unit¬≠ed States is noto¬≠ri¬≠ous¬≠ly high com¬≠pared to costs in oth¬≠er coun¬≠tries, with pub¬≠lic pol¬≠i¬≠cy think tank Rand Cor¬≠po¬≠ra¬≠tion esti¬≠mat¬≠ing that the aver¬≠age list price for a bot¬≠tle of insulin in the Unit¬≠ed 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 Novem¬≠ber, Lil¬≠ly‚Äôs stock price plum¬≠met¬≠ed after a fake account tweet¬≠ed, ‚ÄúMake insulin for free,‚ÄĚ bring¬≠ing renewed atten¬≠tion 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.

‚ÄúEli Lil¬≠ly must have real¬≠ized this,‚ÄĚ 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.

‚ÄúThe com¬≠pa¬≠ny is react¬≠ing to the enor¬≠mous exist¬≠ing and future com¬≠pe¬≠ti¬≠tion for these drugs,‚ÄĚ she said.

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