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Under growing pressure, Lilly to cut price of popular insulins by 70%

(Photo Supplied/ Eli Lilly)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside Indiana Business) – Bowing to growing pressure from consumers and the government, Eli Lilly and Co. on Wednesday announced it is cutting prices by 70% for some of its most commonly prescribed insulins.

The Indianapolis-based drug maker also said it will expand a program that caps patient out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less a month.

The moves comes less than a month after President Biden called on Congress to pass a law placing a universal price cap on insulin for all diabetes patients. His signature legislative achievement, the Inflation Reduction Act, capped insulin prices for Medicare recipients at $35 per month, but the law did not apply to younger diabetes patients.

Earlier this year, California officials sued Lilly and two other large drugmakers, accusing them of scheming to illegally increase the price of the drug.

Lilly, which has long resisted price caps on its insulins, said it was taking the actions “to make it easier to access Lilly insulin and help Americans who may have difficulty navigating a complex healthcare system that may keep them from getting affordable insulin.”

“While the current healthcare system provides access to insulin for most people with diabetes, it still does not provide affordable insulin for everyone and that needs to change,” CEO David Ricks said in written remarks. “The aggressive price cuts we’re announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes.”

The reduction will cover several popular insulins. Lilly said it was cutting its insulin Lispro Injection 100 units/mL, to $25 a vial. It also said it was cutting its insulin Humalog (insulin lispro injection) 100 units/mL Humulin (insulin human) injection 100 units/mL2 by 70%, but did not give a price.

Last year, Humulin rang up sales of $1.01 billion, down 17%. Humalog rang up sales of $2.1 billion, down 16%.

Lilly also said it was launching Rezvoglar injection, a basal insulin that is biosimilar to, and interchangeable with, Lantus injection, for $92 per five pack of KwikPens, a 78% discount to Lantus.

Lilly was the first company to mass-produce insulin in the 1920s from the pancreas glands of livestock. Today, insulin remains Lilly’s oldest and perhaps most famous franchise.

The company said because these price cuts will take time for the insurance and pharmacy system to implement, it will immediately cap out-of-pocket costs for patients who use Lilly insulin and are not covered by the recent Medicare Part D cap for people with commercial insurance.

People who don’t have insurance can continue to go to InsulinAffordability.com and immediately download the Lilly Insulin Value Program savings card to receive Lilly insulins for $35 per month, the company said.

In recent years, Lilly has rolled out multiple insulin price packages on insulin. As a result, the average out-of-pocket cost for Lilly insulins has dropped to $21.80 over the last five years, the company said.

Still, a 2021 study by the Rand Corp. comparing the insulin prices of nearly three dozen countries found prices in the United States were about 10 times higher than everywhere else. The average price of a vial of insulin in the United States was $98, while in nearby Canada it was $12.

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