People not already covered by Medicare should only pay $35 per month for insulin after drugmaker Eli Lilly announced its plans to reduce the cost of the life-saving medication after intense public pressure surrounding the cost of the drug.
While a Virginia-based coalition of small businesses, doctors, local governments, patient advocates, faith leaders and grassroots supporters applaud the announcement, they say other medicines deserve the same scrutiny.
The announcement by Eli Lilly builds on years of efforts by Lilly to close the gaps in the U.S. healthcare system that keep some people with diabetes from accessing affordable insulin, according to the drugmaker.
“While the current healthcare system provides access to insulin for most people with diabetes, it still does not provide affordable insulin for everyone and that needs to change,” said David A. Ricks, Lilly’s Chair and CEO. “The aggressive price cuts we’re announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes. Because these price cuts will take time for the insurance and pharmacy system to implement, we are taking the additional step to immediately cap out-of-pocket costs for patients who use Lilly insulin and are not covered by the recent Medicare Part D cap.”
In the coming weeks, Lilly will launch a nationwide public awareness campaign to help ensure all Lilly insulin users understand how to access the company’s affordability solutions.
“We are driving for change in repricing older insulins, but we know that 7 out of 10 Americans don’t use Lilly insulin. We are calling on policymakers, employers and others to join us in making insulin more affordable,” said Ricks. “For the past century, Lilly has focused on inventing new and improved insulins and other medicines that address the impact of diabetes and improve patient outcomes. Our work to discover new and better treatments is far from over. We won’t stop until all people with diabetes are in control of their disease and can get the insulin they need.”
White House: ‘It’s a big deal’
President Biden released a statement on Wednesday related to the news.
“Today, Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the United States, announced that they are lowering their prices, capping what patients pay out of pocket for the drug maker’s insulin products at $35. For far too long, American families have been crushed by drug costs many times higher than what people in other countries are charged for the same prescriptions. Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it. It’s flat wrong.
“Last year, I signed a law to cap insulin at $35 for seniors and I called on pharma companies to bring prices down for everyone on their own. Today, Eli Lilly did that,” Biden said. “It’s a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre echoed the President’s remarks in a news briefing.
“As you know, for far too long, American families have been crushed by drug cost many times higher than the cost to make them and what people in other countries are charged for that same prescription,” said Jean-Pierre. “Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it.
“As the President said this morning, it’s flat wrong. That’s why the President fought tooth and nail to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps the price of insulin for Americans on Medicare,” she said. “This was a critical action to lower healthcare costs for American people. But the President has been clear that the insulin cap should apply to all Americans.
“In his State of the Union address, he also called on pharma companies to continue this progress and bring prices down for everyone on their own,” said Jean-Pierre. “Today, Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the United States, heeded that call and announced that they are lowering their prices, capping what patients pay out of the pocket – out of pocket for drugmakers’ insulin products at $35.
“This is great news and important progress toward lowering costs for all Americans,” she said.
Virginians still paying too much for other drugs
Virginians for Affordable Medicine — a coalition of small businesses, doctors, local governments, patient advocates, faith leaders and grassroots supporters — also released a statement regarding the news.
In Virginia, 9.5 percent of adults 18 or older are diagnosed with diabetes, or an estimated 647,587 people, according to estimates from the White House.
“We applaud Eli Lilly’s decision to make insulin more affordable for more people, but let’s be clear: hardworking families shouldn’t have to be at the mercy of a drug company to access life-saving medicine at a cost they can afford,” said Rhena Hicks, executive director of Freedom Virginia, a nonprofit that is a member of Virginians for Affordable Medicine.
“This is a good step and will help those who need insulin, but it only resulted from all the public pressure that pharma has been feeling, and while the move builds on the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s still responsive to it.,” said Hicks.
“Eli Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies are still jacking up prices on dozens of other drugs that cost Virginians billions of dollars a year. Those medicines deserve the same scrutiny as insulin, which is why our state lawmakers need to build on the Senate’s bipartisan momentum this legislative session to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to stop price-gouging in this industry.”
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