Eli Lilly Unveils Another Round of Lower-Cost Insulin Products
Eli Lilly is adding additional reduced cost insulin options to patients. The Indianapolis-based company announced lower-priced versions of Humalog Mix75/25 KwikPen (insulin lispro protamine and insulin lispro injectable suspension 100 units/mL) and Humalog Junior KwikPen (insulin lispro injection 100 units/mL).
Both of the insulin products will be marked at 50% cheaper compared to the branded versions and will be available by mid-April, Eli Lilly said. These insulins are identical molecules to the branded versions and may be substituted at the pharmacy counter, Eli Lilly said in its announcement. The move comes as U.S. lawmakers continue to express outrage and concern over the rising costs of insulin and prescription drug prices. There have been numerous reports of diabetics rationing their insulin due to the increased costs. Last year a cost analysis for insulin was released by the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute that showed the price of insulin doubled between 2012 and 2016.
This is Eli Lilly’s second attempt at introducing lower-cost insulins. In May of last year, two months after its regulatory approval, the company’s authorized generic version of Humalog hit the streets with a price tag 50% cheaper than its branded life-saving insulin. However, in August, an analysis showed that patients were not getting the less-expensive version due to a number of different reasons, including a lack of awareness of the product.
That seems to be changing, though. In November 2019, more than 67,000 people filled prescriptions for Insulin Lispro Injection, and approximately 10% of people using Humalog have transitioned to the lower-priced option, Eli Lilly said. Insulin Lispro Injection is now distributed by all major U.S. wholesalers and can be ordered by any pharmacy. Lilly will begin negotiations immediately with wholesalers and payers to make these additional lower-priced insulins available.
“Lilly is committed to offering the broadest suite of solutions for people who need help affording their insulin, and our lower-priced insulins are important options,” Mike Mason, president of Lilly Diabetes said in a statement. “But real change to our reimbursement system is needed. Insurance coverage should ensure no one with diabetes is forced to ration or skip doses for financial reasons.”
Combined, Humalog U-100, Humalog Mix75/25, and Humalog Junior KwikPen make up more than 90% of prescriptions written for a mealtime insulin manufactured by the company. With a lower-priced version of each available, the vast majority of people using a Humalog formulation will have an option that may reduce their out-of-pocket costs, Eli Lilly said.
Mason noted that the retail cost of insulin varies depending on an individual’s insurance plan. More than 95% of people using Humalog pay less than $100 for their monthly prescription at retail pharmacies because of their insurance coverage or one of Lilly's affordability solutions, the company said. The lower-priced options “may reduce out-of-pocket costs, especially for people in the coverage gap of Medicare Part D, the uninsured or those with high-deductible insurance plans,” Mason said.
Eli Lilly isn’t the only insulin maker to provide lower options. Last year, Sanofi expanded its Insulins Valyou Savings Program that would lower the price of some of its insulin treatment to $99 a month for patients who subscribe to the program. Sanofi said people in the United States can pay $99 for up to 10 boxes of pens and/or 10 mL vials per month. The Insulins Valyou Savings Program does not include Sanofi's combination insulin product, the company noted.
Novo Nordisk also announced a lower-priced option for insulin products. Earlier this month the company launched its My$99Insulin Program, follow-on brands of insulins, otherwise known as authorized generics, and an Immediate Supply option.