37 million Americans live with diabetes, a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. 8.4 million of those Americans rely on insulin, which helps convert food into energy that can be used by the body's cells and controls blood sugar levels to manage the disease. Unfortunately, the price of this 100-year-old drug has more than tripled in the past two decades, leaving more than 1.3 million diabetic adults rationing the use of their insulin. Without using insulin as prescribed by a doctor, patients risk serious health conditions or even death.
In 2022, The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was signed into law and capped monthly insulin costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries at $35, starting in January 2023. However, this did not protect uninsured patients with diabetes or those who are covered by private insurance, causing lawmakers and advocacy groups to pressure drug companies to lower the cost of insulin for everyone. In March 2023 top drug companies announced price reductions for certain insulin products:
March 1, 2023: Eli Lilly announced a 70% price reduction for Humalog® (insulin lispro injection), its most prescribed insulin and Humulin® (insulin human) effective fourth quarter of 2023.
March 14, 2023: Novo Nordisk announced price cuts for several of its prefilled insulin pens and vials - be a 65% price reduction on Levemir® and Novolin® while NovoLog® and NovoLog® Mix 70/30 will be reduced by 75% starting on - effective January 1, 2024.
March 16, 2023: Sanofi announced that beginning January 1, 2024, it will also discount the price of its most-prescribed insulin, Lantus® (insulin glargine), by 78% and it will cap out-of-pocket costs for Lantus at $35 for all patients with commercial insurance. In addition, Sanofi announced it will reduce the list price of its short-acting insulin, Apidra® (insulin glulisine), by 70%.
In addition to mounting public pressure on the rising cost of insulin, the Inflation Reduction Act was certainly a primary contributor to this change. However, it is likely that a new Medicaid rebate policy slated to take effect in 2024 had a significant influence on the manufacturers’ decisions. Currently, the amount of Medicaid rebates that drug manufacturers pay is capped based upon the quarterly average manufacturer’s price for any given drug. Beginning January 1, 2024, the previous Medicaid rebate cap will be removed.
Regardless of the reasons for this change in pricing, diabetic patients will benefit from the lower list prices on insulin products put forth by Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. This is expected to contribute to improved healthcare outcomes and avoid long-term complications of diabetes.
To learn more about the reduction in insulin prices on the horizon, click here.