Erika Harvey, PharmD, First-Year Pharmaceutical Care Leadership Resident - Broadway Family Medicine Clinic
Pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly and Co., Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi have recently made headlines with their commitment to reducing the cost of insulin in the United States. This development follows President Biden's decision to cap the cost of insulin at $35/month for those with Medicare Part D, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. This move by the pharmaceutical companies started with Eli Lilly's initial decision to lower insulin prices, followed by similar actions from Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.
As of March 1, 2023, Eli Lilly and Co. has implemented a $35/month copay limit for insulin for those with commercial health insurance and uninsured patients under their Insulin Value Program. However, the cap does not apply to individuals with government insurance, such as Medicaid recipients. Although individuals with commercial insurance plans with pre-existing $35/month copay limits may not notice significant changes, the price cap is expected to benefit those with high-deductible insurance or plans with a high cost-sharing structure instead of fixed copays. Eli Lilly has also announced a 70% reduction in the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC), or list price, of its insulin products including Humalog®, Humulin®, and non-branded insulin lispro for later this year.
Novo Nordisk announced on March 14, 2023 that they will reduce the list price of several long and short-acting pre-filled insulin pens and vials starting January 1, 2024. NovoLog® and NovoLog® Mix 70/30 insulins will see a reduction of 75% in their list price, while Novolin® and Levemir® will see a reduction of 65% in their list price. Furthermore, the company plans to align the list price of non-branded insulin aspart with the lower price of their branded insulin products.
Sanofi made an announcement on March 16, 2023 stating that they will be reducing the list price of Lantus® by 78% and short-acting Apidra® by 70% on January 1, 2024. Additionally, the company has decided to establish a $35/month limit on out-of-pocket expenses for Lantus®, applicable to all patients with commercial insurance. Sanofi will also continue to provide Sanofi Savings programs for those with commercial insurance. Furthermore, they will continue their Insulin ValYou Savings program, which already sets a $35/month cap on out-of-pocket costs for insulin for all individuals without insurance.
Recent research has demonstrated that insulin prices have risen by over 300% in the past 20 years. The announcement of major insulin manufacturers lowering their prices has been met with enthusiasm by patients, healthcare providers, and advocacy groups who have long been advocating for more affordable insulin. It is encouraging that the pharmaceutical industry is addressing the issue of high insulin prices, but there is still work to be done. It is important to continue to advocate for legislative efforts at both federal and state levels to ensure insulin accessibility for all individuals with diabetes who depend on it.
- Lilly Cuts Insulin Prices by 70% and Caps Patient Insulin Out-of-Pocket Costs at $35 Per Month. News release. Eli Lilly. March 1, 2023. Accessed April 10, 2023. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/lilly-cuts-insulin-prices-70-and-caps-patient-insulin-out-pocket
- Novo Nordisk to lower U.S. prices of several pre-filled insulin pens and vials up to 75% for people living with diabetes in January 2024. News release. Novo Nordisk. March 14, 2023. Accessed April 11, 2023. https://www.novonordisk-us.com/content/nncorp/us/en_us/media/news-archive/news-details.html?id=163964
- Sanofi cuts U.S. list price of Lantus®, its most-prescribed insulin, by 78% and caps out-of-pocket Lantus costs at $35 for all patients with commercial insurance. News Release. Sanofi. March 16, 2023. Accessed April 11, 2023. https://www.sanofi.com/en/media-room/press-releases/2023/2023-03-16-20-06-43-2629188
- G. Fernandez. Why Eli Lilly’s Insulin Price Cap Announcement Matters. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. March 1, 2023. Accessed April 16, 2023. https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2023/eli-lilly-lowers-insulin-prices