Eli Lilly’s Generic Insulin Hits Market at Half the Price of Branded Counterpart

Eli Lilly logo on sign outside of building

Two months after Eli Lilly announced it would sell its authorized generic version of Humalog at a 50% lower list price, the discounted versions of the life-saving insulin have hit the streets.

On Wednesday, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly announced that its Lispro Injection is available at pharmacies with the significantly lower list price. Lilly said the generic of Humalog is available in both a vial and KwikPen form. Because they are the same insulin, pharmacists will be able to substitute Insulin Lispro Injection for Humalog, Eli Lilly said. The diabetes patients who are most likely to benefit from Insulin Lispro Injection are Medicare Part D beneficiaries, people with high-deductible health plans and the uninsured who use Humalog.

In January, 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. According to the report, an individual with Type 1 diabetes paid on average $2,864 for insulin in 2012 but that jumped to $5.705 by 2016. Last year the American Diabetes Association published recommendations to address the issue of affordable insulin. The ADA’s call-to-action was based on data that showed the average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. In 2017, the ADA said that diabetes, including both Type 1 and Type 2, was the most expensive chronic illness in the U.S. The disease has a total cost of more than $327 billion per year, including $15 billion for insulin, the ADA said in its report.

Mike Mason, senior vice president of Connected Care and Insulins at Eli Lilly, said the availability of this generic version means more people will be able to afford their insulin. For many diabetics, the rising costs of insulin have been a serious concern. Patients have skipped doses or were rationing the doses of the life-saving drug to their inability to afford additional supplies. Mason said the company, which is one of the primary insulin providers in the U.S., will work with various health plans and the government to “work toward permanent solutions that will help every person with diabetes afford their medicines."

“The current healthcare system isn't working for everyone, causing a growing number of people with chronic conditions to struggle to afford their medicine,” Mason said. “But even one person with diabetes who can't afford insulin is too many, which is why we introduced Insulin Lispro Injection. It adds to our suite of solutions that help significantly lower the amount people pay until a more sustainable solution is achieved.”

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Insulin Lispro Injection has a list price of $137.35 per vial and $265.20 for a package of five KwikPens. The list price is typically higher than what people with insurance or other drug-assistance program management pay in retail costs. In addition to wholesaler contracts that have been secured, Lilly is working with payers to gain broad insurance coverage for Insulin Lispro Injection. Lilly said approximately 95% of people in the U.S. who take Humalog pay about $95 or less per month for their medication. Of those, about 43% pay nothing at retail, the company said. With the new Lispro Injection, Lilly said even more diabetes patients will pay less at the pharmacy. Following its March announcement for Lispro Injection, Eli Lilly released pricing data that showed the price of Humalog dropped by 8% over the past five years.

Last year, Eli Lilly also opened its Lilly Diabetes Solution Center to assist people who need help paying for their Lilly insulin. The company said it has provided assistance to more than 10,000 people per month since the company established the center in August 2018.

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