Another drug firm slashes the price of insulin

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Novo Nordisk follows the lead of Eli Lilly

The news keeps getting better for patients with diabetes. Novo Nordisk has announced it is lowering the list prices of several insulin products by up to 75% for people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The move follows Eli Lilly’s announcement less than two weeks ago that it is cutting insulin product prices by as much as 75%. Both companies’ announcements come in the wake of growing criticism of rising drug prices.

Novo Nordisk is lowering prices on products that include both pre-filled pens and vials of basal (long-acting), bolus (short-acting) and pre-mix insulins, specifically Levemir, Novolin, NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30. 

Novo Nordisk said it would also reduce the list price of unbranded biologics to match the lowered price of each respective branded insulin. These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2024.

Reducing out-of-pocket costs

The company said it acted to help relieve some of diabetes patients’ financial burden, especially when it comes to out-of-pocket costs.

"We have been working to develop a sustainable path forward that balances patient affordability, market dynamics, and evolving policy changes," said Steve Albers, senior vice president, Market Access & Public Affairs at Novo Nordisk. "Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously."

The company also points to some current policies that it says have already reduced out-of-pocket costs for many diabetes patients. They include:

  • Unbranded Biologics: Insulin Degludec is currently available at 65% off the list price of Tresiba; Insulin Aspart and Insulin Aspart Protamine/Insulin Aspart are currently available at 50% off the list price of NovoLog and NovoLog Mix.

  • Novo Nordisk Human Insulin: A program through Walmart for more than two decades offers human insulin for approximately $25 per vial; it is also available at CVS for $25.

  • Co-pay Savings Cards: Co-pays for as little as $25-35 for several insulin products for eligible patients in commercial insurance plans.

  • My$99Insulin: A 30-day supply of a combination of insulin products (up to three vials or two packs of pens) for $99, equating to $33/vial or $49.50/pack of pens.

  • Immediate Supply: A one-time free 30-day supply of insulin (up to three vials or two packs of pens) to eligible patients at risk of rationing.

  • A Patient Assistance Program (PAP): Offers free diabetes medication to people in need who meet certain eligibility criteria.

  • COVID-19 Patient Assistance Program: Offers 90 days of free insulin to eligible patients who lost healthcare coverage due to COVID-19 job loss.

Critics have long questioned why drug companies charged so much for insulin in the first place, a drug that is more than 100 years old. According to Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, writing in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the most commonly used forms of analog insulin cost 10 times more in the U.S. than in any other developed country.

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