The high cost of insulin is finally coming down

Photo (c) Agrobacter - Getty Images

Ely Lilly is slashing the price of the diabetes-treatment drug

After consumer advocates complained loudly that the cost of insulin, used to manage diabetes, had skyrocketed in recent years, a major drug company says it will slash the price it charges.

Eli Lilly has announced it will cut insulin prices by 70% and cap patient out-of-pocket costs at $35 a month.

Medical researchers reported last month 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.

That prompted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last June to issue a policy statement, noting that it was looking into "complaints about rebates and fees paid by drug manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and other intermediaries to favor high-cost drugs.”

Lilly said the 70% price cut applies to its most commonly prescribed insulins and is an expansion of its Insulin Value Program that caps patient out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less per month. Lilly said it is taking these actions to make it easier to access Lilly insulin which is a crucial part of the treatment and management of diabetes.


Specifically, Lilly said it is:

  • Cutting the list price of its non-branded insulin, Insulin Lispro Injection 100 units/mL, to $25 a vial. Effective May 1, 2023, it will be the lowest list-priced mealtime insulin available, and less than the price of a Humalog vial in 1999.

  • Cutting the list price of Humalog (insulin lispro injection) 100 units/mL1, Lilly's most commonly prescribed insulin, and Humulin (insulin human) injection 100 units/mL2 by 70%, effective in Q4 2023.

  • Launching Rezvoglar (insulin glargine-aglr) injection, a basal insulin that is biosimilar to, and interchangeable with, Lantus® (insulin glargine) injection, for $92 per five pack of KwikPens®, a 78% discount to Lantus, effective April 1, 2023.

"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," said David Ricks, Lilly's Chair and CEO. "The aggressive price cuts we're announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes.”

Ricks says the $35 a month cap on out-of-pocket expenses for insulin will take effect right away while the announced price cuts work their way through the pharmacy system.

A 102-year-old drug

Diabetes was a fatal disease before insulin was discovered in 1921. Initially a cheap drug, costs have risen sharply in the past decade.

The Diabetes Research Institute estimates 34.2 million people, or 10.5% of the U.S. population, have diabetes. Patient advocacy groups welcomed Lilly’s announcement.

“We applaud Eli Lilly for taking the important step to limit cost-sharing for its insulin, and we encourage other insulin manufacturers to do the same,” said Chuck” Henderson, CEO of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). “While we have been able to help achieve significant progress on the issue of insulin affordability, including Medicare’s new out-of-pocket cost cap on insulin, state copay caps, and patient assistance developments from insulin manufacturers, we know that our work is not done.”

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