(Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co said on Tuesday it planned to sell two versions of insulin at half their current list prices, eight months after it started selling a half-priced version of its popular Humalog injection.
FILE PHOTO: 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. Picture taken February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
Major insulin makers Lilly, Sanofi SA and Novo Nordisk have been pushing to make the life-saving diabetes medicine available for lower costs to counter heavy criticism from lawmakers and patients.
Insulin is used widely by diabetes patients to control high blood sugar, but its cost in the United States nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016, and stories have emerged of patients forced into sometimes brutal rationing of the medicine to allow them to work and survive.
Lilly in the past has called insulin a highly rebated product. Drugmakers often argue they have to keep prices high because of rebates or after market-discounts they must pay to pharmacy benefit managers and health insurers to get products on their lists of covered drugs.
“Real change to our reimbursement system is needed. Insurance coverage should ensure no one with diabetes is forced to ration or skip doses for financial reasons,” Mike Mason, president of Lilly’s diabetes unit, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Lilly now plans to launch new versions of Humalog Junior KwikPen and Humalog Mix75/25, which contains a mix of fast- and intermediate-acting insulin.
Both the new versions will have a list price of $265.20 for a pack of five ‘KwikPens’ and will be available by mid-April, the company said.
Lilly in May started selling a half-priced version of Humalog called Insulin Lispro.
Novo Nordisk said earlier this month it would offer free insulin to U.S. patients in immediate need, following its announcement in September that U.S. patients can buy three vials or two packs of pens of its analog insulins for $99.
In April, a U.S. congressional committee called on executives from Novo, Sanofi and Lilly to testify about the rising costs of the drug.
Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel