The international pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly, announced it will cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for customers in the United States who have private insurance and use participating pharmacies. The changes, which represent a 70 percent decrease in price, will go into effect at the end of 2023.
With diabetes being the fastest-growing chronic condition, according to Lancet, there are currently 37.3 million Americans living with diabetes worldwide and eight million who need insulin to manage the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
“[W]hile the current healthcare system provides access to insulin for most people with diabetes, it still does not provide affordable insulin for everyone and that needs to change,” David A. Ricks, CEO of Eli Lilly, said. “The aggressive price cuts we’re announcing today should make a real difference.”
Eli Lilly said that while its branded diabetes medication, such as Humalog and Humulin, are capped at $35, it will cap its non-branded insulin, Lispro, at $25 starting on May 1. The current cost of a vial of the company’s branded insulin is capped at $275 for patients without health insurance and $82.41 for a vial of non-branded insulin, Causes.com reported.
“Because these price cuts will take time for the insurance and pharmacy system to implement, we are taking the additional step to immediately cap out-of-pocket costs for patients who use Lilly insulin and are not covered by the recent Medicare Part D cap,” Ricks said.
Because of these “high prices,” 16.5% of people in the U.S. are rationing their insulin, according to the CDC, and many Americans make the drive to Canada or Mexico to purchase insulin at a lower price. According to a Rand study, the U.S. had the highest priced insulin at $98 a vial in 2018, compared to Australia, which was at $7, or the UK, which was at $8.
“Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it,” President Biden said. “It’s flat wrong.”
President Biden called Eli Lilly’s announcement “huge news” after he fought for $35 insulin caps, but was defeated by Congress last year.
“[F]or far too long, American families have been crushed by drug costs many times higher than what people in other countries are charged for the same prescriptions,” President Biden said.