Drugmaker Eli Lilly will begin offering a cheaper version of its top-selling insulin after facing increasing pressure from lawmakers and the public about the rising costs of prescription drugs, especially diabetes treatments, the company announced Monday.
The announcement comes amid rising demand for pharmaceutical companies in the United States to lower prescription medication prices.
As some critics have noted since Lilly's move, the insulin space has seen massive list price increases over the years.
There are millions of people with diabetes in the USA, and insulin has become a particular flashpoint for the debate over the cost of drugs.
The soaring cost of insulin has been the focus of recent campaigns that highlight how patients struggle to afford the medicine they need to live.
Dave Ricks said in a statement that Eli Lilly doesn't want any diabetic patient to curtail or skip their insulin dosages owing to affordability issues, therefore the firm doesn't want its customers to pay the full retail price for Humalog. "We hope our announcement is a catalyst for positive change across the USA healthcare system". Lilly, Novo Nordisk A/S and Sanofi last month were sent letters by a Senate committee asking how they set insulin prices, and Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt was among the pharma bosses who headed to Washington last month to testify on drug costs.
The new generic will sell for a little under $140 per vial or around $265 for a five-pack of injectable pens, says Lilly, which will market it through its ImClone Systems subsidiary.
The cost of insulin for treating type 1 diabetes in the United States almost doubled over a five-year period, underscoring a national outcry over rising drug prices, Reuters reported in January.
When asked why Lilly didn't simply cut the price of Humalog in half instead of introduce the authorized generic, Mason said that would be a more challenging proposition given how the healthcare system operates today. In the two years since that launch, the net price per prescription for the class of basal insulins in the USA has decreased by approximately 30 percent. The company said it also offers a variety of discount programmes for patients.
It will help by "immediately providing a more affordable option for certain Americans in high-deductible health insurance plans, the uninsured and seniors that hit the coverage gap in their Medicare Part D plans", writes Ricks in a blog post.