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March 21, 2023
Drugmaker Eli Lilly announced on Wednesday that they will cap the out-of-pocket cost of its insulin at $35 a month. Experts believe that this could lead to other companies following suit.
The change, which Eli Lilly said will be put in place immediately, places them in line with a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, which in January imposed a $35 monthly cap on the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for seniors enrolled in Medicare.
President Joe Biden praised the move in a tweet. Biden also asked others to follow suit.
“Huge news. Last year, we capped insulin prices for seniors on Medicare, but there was more work to do. I called on Congress – and manufacturers – to lower insulin prices for everyone else. Today, Eli Lilly is heeding my call. Others should follow.”
Biden addressed insulin prices during his State of The Union speech.
The American Diabetes Association also praised the decision.
Insulin makers have faced pressure from members of Congress and advocacy groups to reduce the cost of insulin.
Public policy think tank The Rand Corporation said that insulin costs in the United States was extremely high when compared to other countries. They estimated that in 2018, the average list price for one vial of insulin in the U.S. was $98.70.
“Patients should have a consistent and lower cost experience at the pharmacy counter,” David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s CEO, said on a press call Wednesday.
The cap will automatically apply to anyone with private insurance. Those without insurance will be eligible provided they sign up for Eli Lilly’s copay assistance program.
That program began providing insulin to patients, regardless of their insurance statuses, for no more than $35 a month in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
Eli Lilly spokesperson Kelly Smith said along with the cost caps, they will also reduce their price for several other products this year, including Humalog. Humalog can be used to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Three out of 10 people with diabetes who rely on insulin use a product from Eli Lilly, Smith added.
Approximately 8.4 million people in the U.S. with diabetes rely on insulin, according to the ADA. The three main players in the insulin market are Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.
Stacie Dusetzina, who is a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, believes Eli Lilly’s move was a result of increased competition.
“The company is reacting to a tremendous amount of existing and upcoming competition for these drugs,” she said.
Civica Rx, who are a nonprofit company in Lehi, Utah, announced last year that it will produce and sell generic versions of insulin to consumers at no more than $30 a vial and no more than $55 for a box of five pen cartridges.
California has also planned to make low-cost insulin. Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. stated their intention to sell insulin at an affordable price.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: THE HILL