Diabetes patients find it harder to fill prescriptions for insulin

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Eli Lilly reports a manufacturing issue has created ‘temporary’ shortages

The good news is that insulin, a drug used to manage diabetes, is now more affordable. The bad news? It’s now harder to find.

In March, Eli Lilly warned that two brands of its insulin were in short supply and would be temporarily out of stock until sometime this month. 

“We recognize that any supply challenge may cause a disruption in people’s treatment regimens, and we are moving with urgency to address it,” the drug company said in a statement. “Anyone experiencing difficulty in getting their prescription filled should contact their healthcare provider to discuss switching to the same insulin in a prefilled pen or other insulin treatment options.

“Additionally, patients may check other pharmacies in their insurance network for available supply. Patients who need insulin immediately and cannot access their healthcare provider for an alternative treatment option should seek emergency care.”

Lilly said 10-milliliter vials of Humalog and Insulin Lispro Injection are out of stock. It said it is continuing to manufacture 10-milliliter vials of the products and will ship them as soon as they are available. 

Other products are available

“In the meantime, all other Lilly insulin products – including Humalog and Insulin Lispro Injection in prefilled pens (KwikPen) – are currently available in the U.S. We are in ongoing contact with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” the company said.

It’s just the latest frustration for patients who need regular insulin treatments. In 2019 the FDA began to respond to surging insulin prices – a drug that has been around for over 100 years and is not expensive to manufacture. Congress joined regulators to pressure drug companies to lower prices and that had some results.

In 2023, both Lilly and rival Novo Nordisk announced they would cap the price of insulin products, reducing prices by as much as 75%.

Medical researchers have reported that between 2001 and 2018, the average list price of insulin had increased by 11% every year. On an annual basis, the cost was approaching $6,000 every 12 months.

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