After Years of Pressure, Eli Lilly Is Lowering the Price of Insulin—Here's What You Need to Know

The pharmaceutical Eli Lilly and Company announced Wednesday that it will cap some Insulin prices at $35 per month for most customers. Humulin and Humalog are both part of the new program.

The pharmaceutical Eli Lilly and Company announced Wednesday that it will reduce some insulin prices by 70% and expand access to a program that caps prices at $35 per month.

The company says its generic insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection 100 units/milliliter, will cost $25 per vial beginning May 1. Lilly will also slash prices on Humalog and Humulin by 70% in the last quarter of the year and launch a new, affordable product that is interchangeable with Lantus insulin injections. That Lantus alternative will arrive on the market April 1.

Because these price cuts are staggered throughout the year, the company also announced that its Insulin Value Program is now open to all uninsured and privately insured customers. The Lilly Insulin Value Program, which has been in place since 2020, caps the price of insulin to $35 per month for folks who download an insulin savings card and present it to the pharmacist at checkout. The program is open to everyone except those enrolled in federal government insurance programs—though Medicare Part D beneficiaries already have their insulin costs capped at $35.

"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," David A. Ricks, Lilly's Chair and CEO, said in a media release. "The aggressive price cuts we're announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes. Because these price cuts will take time for the insurance and pharmacy system to implement, we are taking the additional step to immediately cap out-of-pocket costs for patients who use Lilly insulin and are not covered by the recent Medicare Part D cap."

a vial of insulin with a price tag of $35 on it
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When the price cuts do settle into place, the cost of a vial of Humalog should drop from its list price of $275 to $66, according to reporting from the Associated Press. The cost of a vial of Humulin will fall from $149 to $45. Other products, like Humalog KwikPens, which retail at $530 for a pack of five 30-mL pens, and Basaglar will not have their prices cut.

A 2022 article published in Diabetologia noted that a 1,000-unit vial of insulin costs less than $3.37 to manufacture. "Allowing for 30% profit, a year's supply for someone who takes 40 units per day should cost less than US$71 per year," the researchers wrote—but a customer may have to pay more than that for a single vial, which would last 25 days.

The same article lists Lilly as one of the "Big Three" insulin manufacturers alongside Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. The three companies control 96% of the insulin market, and have done so for decades. In 2020, the "Big Three" grossed $19.9 billion in insulin sales. In a statement released Wednesday, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) made it clear that the Lilly price cuts are just one step toward making insulin affordable for everyone.

"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," ADA CEO Charles Henderson said. "We will work to ensure that Eli Lilly's patient assistance program is benefiting patients as intended and continue the fight so that everyone who needs insulin has access."

The nonprofit T1International has been advocating for a federal ceiling on insulin prices since its founding in 2014. In an interview with The New York Times, T1International founder Elizabeth Pfiester said the group would continue to fight for regulation that would affect all insulin manufacturers and hold Lilly accountable. "This is good news for some, but we need regulation to make sure that the companies can't change their mind again and decide to raise the price," Pfiester said.

The high price of insulin has also become a target for folks in the Washington, D.C. In 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to find ways to lower prescription drug costs. The Inflation Reduction Act capped the price of insulin at $35 per month for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries beginning January 2023. In 2022, Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia also introduced the Affordable Insulin Now Act, a bill referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have yet to respond to the drop in Lilly's prices, but both companies have ways for some insulin users to save money on their prescriptions. Folks who use Novo Nordisk insulin should see if they're eligible for My$99Insulin, while Sanofi users can take advantage of Sanofi Patient Connection, as well as some other savings programs.

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