Drug company Eli Lilly offering half-price insulin amid political pressure

Desiree Burns
March 7, 2019

Drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co will offer a half-priced version of its blockbuster insulin, becoming one of the first companies to effectively cut the price of a top-selling drug amid the ongoing U.S. debate over pharmaceutical costs.

At 50 percent the price of Humalog, the generic insulin lispro will carry a list price of $137.35 per vial, the company said, or $265.20 for a pack of five pens.

The announcement comes amid rising demand for pharmaceutical companies in the USA to lower prescription medication prices. A new study found that adults who quit smoking a long time ago may have a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than those who quit smoking recently, Reuters reported.

"The significant rebates we pay on insulins do not directly benefit all patients".

The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018.

Lilly and other drugmakers have been targeted by protesters and taken heat over soaring prices for some of their products.

"Solutions that lower the cost of insulin at the pharmacy have been introduced in recent months", Ricks continued, "but more people need help".

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The cost of insulin for treating type 1 diabetes in the United States has almost doubled over a five-year period, leading some patients to put their own health at risk by rationing the medication because they could not afford out-of-pocket expenses.

Lilly said on Monday the new version would be called Insulin Lispro, while Humalog would remain available for patients who want to continue accessing it through their current insurance plans.

"'There are clearly patients who, despite many best efforts, are struggling to afford their insulin, ' David Ricks, the chief executive of Lilly, said in an interview Friday".

Yet many patients say the rising price of the drug is putting it out of reach, forcing them to dangerously curtail their doses.

"Clearly, the insulin cartel is feeling pressure after years of price gouging a lifesaving drug", he wrote. In an emailed statement, Sanofi said it has a competing version of Humalog, called a biosimilar, that it sells under the name Admelog.

Lilly, a leading producer of insulin, is one of many firms that has been grilled by United States senators in the last week.

In 2012, Marston lost her job and found herself paying the full list price for Humalog, a life-saving medication used by people with diabetes to help process sugar found in the blood.

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