Drugmaker Eli Lilly caps insulin cost at $35 a month, bringing relief to millions

Eli Lilly will cap the disbursement his insulin at $35 a month, the drugmaker announced Wednesday. The move, experts say, could prompt other insulin makers in the United States to follow suit.

The change, which Eli Lilly says takes effect immediately, brings the drugmaker into compliance with a provision of the Curbing Inflation Act, which last month imposed a $35 monthly cap on the cost of insulin for older people enrolled in Medicare.

Insulin manufacturers continue to come under pressure from members of Congress and lobby groups to lower the cost of lifesaving drugs. Insulin costs in the United States are notoriously high compared to costs in other countries; the RAND Corporation, a public policy think tank, estimated that in 2018 the average list price of a vial of insulin in the United States was $98.70.

Three out of 10 people with diabetes who are dependent on insulin use one of Eli Lilly’s products, according to the company.Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images File

The cap automatically applies to people with private insurance. Individuals without insurance will be eligible as long as they enroll in Eli Lilly’s co-payment assistance program.

This program began providing insulin to patients – regardless of insurance status – for up to $35 per month in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.

The cap applies to all of Eli Lilly’s insulin products, said company spokeswoman Kelly Smith. In addition to the cost caps, the company will lower the list price of several of its products, including Humalog, this year.

In the United States, about 8.4 million people with diabetes are insulin dependent, according to the American Diabetes Association. Three drugmakers – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – dominate the insulin market.

Three in 10 people with diabetes who are insulin dependent use an Eli Lilly product, Smith said.

In November, Eli Lilly’s share price fell sharply after a fake tweet from an impostor account falsely claimed the company was making insulin without insulin, bringing renewed attention to its cost.

In addition to political pressure, Eli Lilly also faces the threat of competition from outside the industry, said Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy at KFF, formerly known as Kaiser Family Foundation. .

Civica Rx, a nonprofit in Lehi, Utah, said last year it planned to manufacture and sell generic versions of insulin to consumers for no more than $30 per vial. and no more than $55 for a box of five pen cartridges. The state of California also plans to make low-cost insulin, as does Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co., which sells low-cost drugs online.

“Eli Lilly definitely sees the writing on the wall,” Levitt said.

Stacie Dusetzina, professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, agreed that the move was most likely driven by increased competition.

“Society is responding to a tremendous amount of existing and upcoming competition for these drugs,” she said.

Follow BNC HEALTH on Twitter & Facebook.

Leave a Comment