INDIANAPOLIS, IN – March 1, 2023 – On March 1st, the drugmaker Eli Lilly announced price cuts for some of its older insulin medicines and a monthly cost cap. According to the American Diabetes Association, between 8 and 9 million Americans need insulin to control their blood sugar. However, more than 1.3 million adults either skipped or had to ration doses because of the high cost of insulin. Therefore, this new policy will eliminate the financial barrier to obtain these life-saving medicines. The drugmaker has been under pressure from patients, patient advocates, and elected officials to keep insulin affordable.
Lilly will lower the list prices for Humalog (the most commonly prescribed insulin) and Humulin insulin by 70 percent. Patients with high deductible health insurance and without health insurance will save a lot of money because they frequently pay the list price.
The drugmaker will cap the monthly out-of-pocket cost at $35 for people with private health insurance. Uninsured people can get their insulin at the same monthly cap cost by obtaining a savings card at the insulinaffordability.com website.
The company said in a press release, “Lilly is taking these actions to make it easier to access Lilly insulin and help Americans who may have difficulty navigating a complex healthcare system that may keep them from getting affordable insulin.”
Lilly’s new insulin price controls come after a recent surge in public and political interest about the cost of insulin tripling over the past 20 years. The Inflation Reduction Act, recently passed by Congress, has capped the monthly insulin prices for Medicare Part D beneficiaries at $35. However, persons younger than 65 were excluded from the cost savings. Therefore, at his recent State of the Union speech in February, Biden proposed that Congress pass a bill to cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for everyone.
After hearing about Lilly’s insulin price reduction, President Biden responded, “It’s a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow.” Only about 30% of Americans with diabetes who take insulin use insulin manufactured by Lilly. Other prominent insulin manufactures have not yet followed Lilly’s lead.
Almost 11% of Americans, about 34 million people, have diabetes, a chronic disease. If untreated, the blood glucose level becomes too high leading to short-term problems (like frequent urination, blurred vision and fatigue) and long-term problems (like heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, frequent infections, and nerve damage). Keeping blood sugar under good control is very important to avoid complications. Our body converts food into glucose which is converted into energy as needed. Insulin is a vital hormone that is produced in the pancreas. It regulates the amount of glucose in the blood and, indirectly, controls the amount of energy produced. People with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin and must take this medicine every day. Some people with type 2 diabetes require insulin.
Dr. Robert Lash, chief medical officer of the Endocrine Society, said “Insulin is one of those medicines, particularly for those with Type 1 diabetes, that’s in the must-have category. If you don’t have it, you die.”
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