Eli Lilly will immediately increase a cap on charges insured people pay to fill prescriptions and lower pricing for some older insulins later this year.
The actions announced on Wednesday offer crucial assistance to certain diabetics who may have to pay more than $1,000 a year for the life-sustaining insulin they require.
Lilly’s adjustments also come in response to demands from legislators and patient organizations to take action against skyrocketing medicine prices.
The fourth quarter, which begins in October, will see a 70% list price reduction for Lilly’s most often prescribed insulin, Humalog, and another, Humulin. The medicine manufacturer made no mention of the revised prices.
List pricing is what a drugmaker initially establishes for a product and what occasionally leaves customers without insurance or with high deductible plans footing the bill.
Patient activists have long asked for insulin price reductions to assist uninsured individuals who would not be impacted by price restrictions linked to insurance coverage.
Lilly’s anticipated reduction “may potentially bring some substantial rice relief,” said Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy expert at Vanderbilt University who monitors prescription costs.
She pointed out that because the insulins are older and several are already in competition, the changes probably won’t have a significant financial impact on Lilly.
She said it makes Lilly’s decision to proceed with these adjustments easier.
Moreover, Lilly announced on Wednesday that starting in May, the cost of their authorized generic version of Humalog will drop to $25 per vial.
According to GoodRx, a generic Humalog prescription can cost anywhere from $44 to almost $100.
Lilly is also releasing biosimilar insulin to counter Sanofi’s Lantus in April.
Lilly CEO David Ricks said in a statement that the drugmaker would immediately set a monthly out-of-pocket maximum of $35 for customers not enrolled in Medicare’s prescription medication program because it will take time for insurers and the pharmacy system to implement its pricing cuts.
The manufacturer said that most retail pharmacies and those with business insurance are subject to the cap.
According to Lilly, those without insurance can discover savings cards on InsulinAffordability.com that will allow them to purchase insulin for the same price.
Beginning in January, the federal government began imposing that cap on Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age or older or with specific disabilities or illnesses.
Chuck Henderson, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, praised Lilly for their actions and urged other insulin producers to follow suit by capping patient expenses.
Other insulin manufacturers include the Danish pharmaceutical business Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
The Associated Press contacted both companies on Wednesday morning, but neither answered immediately.
The body uses insulin, produced by the pancreas, to turn food into energy. Diabetes patients don’t make enough insulin.
Insulin must be taken daily to maintain life in people with Type 1 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 8 million Americans use insulin.
In the last 20 years, insulin prices have more than tripled, according to research, and pressure is mounting on drug companies to assist patients.
The cost cap was mentioned by President Joe Biden last month during his annual State of the Union speech. He demanded a $35 cap on the cost of insulin for all people.
California has stated that it intends to look into producing its own less expensive insulin. According to a spokesman, companies like the nonprofit Civica, which wants to manufacture three insulins at a suggested price of no more than $30 per vial, may also threaten drugmakers.
Maybe realizing that high pricing “can’t stay forever,” according to Larry Levitt, executive vice president of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care.
According to Levitt, Lilly is attempting to head off the problem and present a positive image to the public.
In 1923, two years after the University of Toronto researchers initially discovered insulin, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. became the first corporation to market the drug. The drug company then established its name by creating insulin even as it expanded into developing cancer medicines, antipsychotics, and other medications.
Lilly made over $3 billion in sales from Humulin, Humalog, and its authorized generic last year. The year prior, they brought in more than $3.5 billion.
These therapies have a long track record of efficacy and ought to be more affordable for patients, according to Dusetzina.