President Joe Biden calls Eli Lilly’s move a “big deal” and calls on other manufacturers to lower prices as well.
US President Joe Biden has welcomed a move by a major drugmaker to significantly lower the price of insulin, a life-saving medication for people with diabetes.
Eli Lilly had said on Wednesday it will lower prices for some older insulin products later this year and immediately give more patients access to a cap on the cost to fill prescriptions.
Biden called the move a “big deal” and called on other manufacturers to follow suit.
“Eli Lilly, the largest insulin manufacturer in the United States, has announced that they are lowering their prices, allowing patients to pay out of pocket for the drugmaker’s insulin products at $35,” the US president said in a statement.
“For far too long, American families have been crushed by drug costs that are many times what people in other countries are being charged for the same prescriptions. Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans sometimes have to pay more than $300 for it. It’s flat wrong.”
Lilly said it will cut the list price for the most commonly prescribed insulin, Humalog, and for another insulin, Humulin, by 70 percent in the fourth quarter, which begins in October.
List prices are what a drug manufacturer initially sets for a product. People who don’t have insurance or health insurance with a high deductible are sometimes stuck paying those prices.
Last year we capped insulin prices for seniors on Medicare, but there was more work to be done.
I called on Congress — and manufacturers — to lower insulin prices for everyone else.
Today Eli Lilly answers my call. Others should follow.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 1, 2023
David Ricks, Lilly’s CEO, said Wednesday his company was making the changes to address issues that affect the price patients ultimately pay for their insulins.
He noted that the discounts Lilly offered off list prices often didn’t reach patients through insurers or pharmacy managers. A high deductible can lead to high bills at the pharmacy counter, especially at the beginning of the year when the deductible is extended.
“We know that the current U.S. health care system has gaps,” he said. “This makes a serious disease like diabetes even more difficult to treat.”
During his State of the Union address last month, Biden called for the price of insulin to be capped at $35 for all Americans after a law went into effect limiting costs for seniors on Medicare, a healthcare program primarily for older Americans meant.
“Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s keep the cost down… to $35 for everyone. Big Pharma is still going to do very well, I promise you,” Biden said.
Ricks said it will take time for insurers and the pharmacy system to implement the price cuts, so the drugmaker will immediately limit monthly out-of-pocket costs to $35 for people not covered by Medicare’s prescription drug program.
Insulin is made by the pancreas and used by the body to convert food into energy. People with diabetes do not produce enough insulin.
People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to survive. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than eight million Americans use insulin.
Research has shown that insulin prices have more than tripled over the past two decades and pressure is mounting on drugmakers to help patients.
The state of California has said it plans to explore how to make its own cheaper insulin. Drugmakers may also face competition from companies such as the nonprofit Civica, which plans to produce three insulins at an MSRP of no more than $30 per vial, a spokeswoman said.
Drugmakers may be seeing “the writing on the wall that high prices can’t last forever,” said Larry Levitt, an executive vice president at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care.
“Lilly is trying to get ahead of the issue and seem like the good guy to the public,” Levitt told the Associated Press news agency.
Ricks said Lilly made the changes announced Wednesday “because it’s time and the right thing to do”.