Eli Lilly is capping consumer insulin costs at $35
Bloomberg News March 2, 2023
(Tribune New Service) — Eli Lilly & Co. is capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 a month, following a public plea from President Joe Biden for lower prices of the diabetes treatment for all Americans.
Lilly announced the cap Wednesday along with other actions, including cutting the list price for non-branded Insulin Lispro Injection to $25 a vial in May, while some Humalog and Humulin doses will be slashed 70% in the fourth quarter. Newly launched Rezvoglar will sell at a 78% discount to a biosimilar version — Sanofi’s Lantus — starting in April, the company said.
The drugmaker is heeding Biden’s call just as it’s lobbying for a bill to allow obesity drugs to be covered by Medicare, including its popular Mounjaro diabetes treatment, which is under review for weight loss. In his State of the Union address last month, Biden said he’d seek to expand the Inflation Reduction Act’s $35 cap on insulin costs for seniors on Medicare to all patients. His administration has made lowering the cost of insulin a priority, but his proposal faces an uphill battle in a divided Congress.
“For 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,” Biden said Wednesday in a statement. “Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it.”
Lilly’s move is “a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow,” he said. Speaking to reporters briefly at the White House, Biden thanked Lilly for its action and said, “They’re all going to do that.”
The price cap is a long-overdue step, according to Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who also called on other insulin makers to decrease prices. Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S and France’s Sanofi also make the insulin for the U.S.
“While 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,” Lilly’s Chief Executive Officer David A. Ricks said in a statement. “The aggressive price cuts we’re announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes.”
Lilly shares rose 1% at the close of the stock market in New York.
Asked if lowering insulin costs may help garner government favor for Lilly’s push to pass obesity legislation, Ricks told reporters that the only purpose for the insulin price cap is to relieve patients’ out-of-pocket costs. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act is a bipartisan bill first introduced in 2013 that aims to expand Medicare coverage of obesity treatments.
Lowering costs of insulin won’t affect Lilly’s earnings as its outlook for this year already took into account the rebates, Ricks said.
“Eli Lilly execs woke up and decided to stop charging over $35 a month for insulin. That’s all well and good — but lifesaving care shouldn’t rely on corporate whims,” Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted. Health care must be treated like a “basic human right,” she said.
With assistance from Josh Wingrove.
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