Insulin prices drop, may spur long-term trend

A major manufacturer announced a cut in the prices of its insulins and instituted a $35 out-of-pocket monthly cap for commercially insured patients.

Eli Lilly announced on March 1 that it would reduce prices of its most common insulin products by 70% and cap out-of-pocket prices for patients to $35 month.

In a press release, the company said that it will reduce the price of its nonbranded insulin, insulin lispro injection 100 units/mL, to $25 per vial effective May 1. It will also cut the list price of two branded insulins, Humalog (insulin lispro injection) and Humulin (insulin human injection), by 70% in the fourth quarter of 2023. In addition, on April 1, the company will launch a new basal insulin, Rezvoglar (insulin glargine-aglr) that is biosimilar to and interchangeable with its branded insulin glargine injection (Lantus). The new product will cost $92 per five-pack of injections, 78% less than Lantus, the company said.

Eli Lilly is also automatically capping out-of-pocket insulin costs for commercially insured patients at $35 at participating retail pharmacies, effective immediately. This price is also available for people without insurance through a savings card, the company said. The price cap matches that currently in place for Medicare Part D enrollees as mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Kaiser Health News reported on March 2 that Eli Lilly's move is expected to complement those of others, including Civica, a nonprofit drugmaker that had previously announced a plan to offer biosimilar insulin at $30 a vial, and the state of California, which will begin manufacturing its own insulin brand in addition to generic versions of other expensive drugs. Experts quoted by Kaiser Health News said that Eli Lilly's plan may spur other, similar initiatives that may in turn motivate drug companies to continue to keep their prices low. Oncologist Vincent Rajkumar, MD, told the news outlet, “The more competition, the more stable this solution will be so that five to 10 years from now the prices won't go up again.”