Breanna Reeves |
Insulin producer Eli Lilly and Company announced on Mar. 1 that the company will cap patient out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less per month in an effort to increase access and affordability.
Lilly will cut the costs of Humalog, the company’s most commonly prescribed insulin, and another insulin called Humulin by 70% beginning in the fourth quarter which starts in October.
Approximately eight million Americans rely on insulin, but roughly one in five adults — 16.5% — with diabetes, either skipped, delayed or rationed insulin in order to save money in 2021, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The findings in the study were based on data collected in a 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is used by the body to convert food into energy. People who have diabetes cannot produce enough insulin and rely on lab-made 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,” said David A. Ricks, Lilly’s Chair and CEO, in a statement.
A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that among insulin users enrolled in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D), who do not receive low-income subsidies, spent on average $572 per person for insulin in 2020. The cost of insulin increased by 76% between 2007 and 2020, from $324 to $572, the report noted.
Insulin users often go through several vials of insulin per month. One vial of Humalog is listed with a cost of $275, which Lilly plans to reduce to $66. Lilly also announced that it will reduce the cost of its non-branded insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection, to $25 a vial beginning May 1, 2023. This will make the generic insulin the lowest “list-priced mealtime insulin available.”
“For far too long, American families have been crushed by drug costs many times higher than what people in other countries are charged for the same prescriptions. Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it. It’s flat wrong,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “It’s a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 133 million people are living with some form of diabetes. Roughly 37 million have been diagnosed with diabetes and 96 million with prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugars are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
“We applaud Eli Lilly for taking the important step to limit cost-sharing for its insulin, and we encourage other insulin manufacturers to do the same. While we have been able to help achieve significant progress on the issue of insulin affordability, including Medicare’s new out-of-pocket cost cap on insulin, state copay caps, and patient assistance developments from insulin manufacturers, we know that our work is not done,” Charles “Chuck” Henderson, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, commented in a press release.