Eli Lilly will cut prices for some older insulins later this year and immediately expand a cap on costs insured patients pay to fill prescriptions.
The moves announced Wednesday promise critical relief to some people with diabetes who can face annual costs of more than $1,000 for insulin they need in order to live. Lilly’s changes also come as lawmakers and patient advocates pressure drugmakers to do something about soaring prices.
Lilly said it will cut the list price for its most commonly prescribed insulin, Humalog, and for another insulin, Humulin, by 70% in the fourth quarter, which starts in September. The drugmaker didn’t detail what the new prices would be.
List prices are what a drugmaker initially sets for a product and what people who have no insurance or plans with high deductibles are sometimes stuck paying.
Patient advocates have long called for insulin price cuts to help uninsured people who would not be affected by price caps tied to insurance coverage.
Lilly’s planned cuts “could actually provide some substantial rice relief,” said Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University who studies drug costs.
She noted that the moves likely won’t affect Lilly much financially because the insulins are older and some already face competition.
“It makes it easier for Lilly to go ahead and make these changes,” she said.
Lilly also said Wednesday that it will cut the price of its authorized generic version of Humalog to $25 a vial starting in May.
The cost of a prescription for generic Humalog ranges between $44 and close to $100 on the website GoodRx.
Lilly also is launching in April a biosimilar insulin to compete with Sanofi’s Lantus.
Lilly CEO David Ricks said in a statement that it will take time for insurers and the pharmacy system to implement its price cuts, so the drugmaker will immediately cap monthly out-of-pocket costs at $35 for people who are not covered by Medicare’s prescription drug program.
The drugmaker said the cap applies to people with commercial coverage and at most retail pharmacies.
Lilly said people without insurance can find savings cards to receive insulin for the same amount at its InsulinAffordability.com website.