Sanofi is cutting the list price of Lantus, its most widely prescribed insulin in the U.S., by 78% and setting a monthly cap of $35 for those with private insurance, the company said Thursday. The change takes effect on January 1.
The move follows similar ones by Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk this month. The three companies dominate the global insulin market.
Insulin manufacturers are under increased public and government pressure to lower their prices for more people with diabetes as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps a $35 per month insulin prescription for Medicare beneficiaries.
Sanofi is also cutting the list price of its short-acting insulin Apidra by 70%.
Uninsured Americans are eligible for Sanofi’s Insulins Valyou Savings Program, which allows them to purchase one or more insulins for a 30-day supply for $35. Another offer allows the uninsured to purchase the Soliqua injection for just $99 per box of pens, for up to two boxes of pens for a 30-day supply.
Earlier this month, Eli Lilly announced a series of price cuts that would reduce the cost of the most commonly used forms of its insulin by 70%. Eli Lilly also said it will automatically cap insulin out-of-pocket costs at $35 for people who have private insurance and use participating pharmacies, and will expand its insulin value program, which caps out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less. -a little per month for uninsured persons.
Novo Nordisk then said on Tuesday it would cut the list prices of several of its popular pre-filled insulin pens and vials by up to 75%. The company, however, has not announced an expansion of its programs that reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs, which has been a focus of President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress. It runs several programs to reduce costs for people with diabetes.
Lowering list prices generally helps lower costs for insured Americans who have not met their deductibles and for the uninsured. After insureds have met their deductibles, they usually pay a lower price that is determined by their insurance plan.
The high cost of insulin, which is relatively cheap to produce, has been in the spotlight for many years.
Last year, Democrats in Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which cuts Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35 a month per prescription starting this year. Republicans blocked a measure to extend the price cap to those covered by private insurance.
In his State of the Union address last month, Biden called for capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month for all Americans. And he later praised Eli Lilly’s move, describing it as a “big deal” and urging other drugmakers to do the same. He noted Novo Nordisk’s announcement in a speech about lowering drug prices on Wednesday.
At least 16.5 percent of people in the U.S. who use insulin report limiting it because of cost, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The average cost of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, the American Diabetes Association says. The trend continues, with the average retail price of insulin rising 54% between 2014 and 2019, according to GoodRx, which tracks drug prices, provides coupons and operates a telemedicine platform.
Demand for insulin has grown significantly as diabetes has become the world’s fastest-growing chronic disease, a 2022 study found.
In the U.S. alone, the number of adults with diabetes has doubled in the past 20 years, and more than 37.3 million people now have it, according to the CDC. Another 96 million Americans — 38 percent of the population — have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. This can often lead to diabetes.
People with diabetes rely on insulin because their bodies have stopped producing enough of this hormone or are not using it effectively to turn food into energy.
When a person eats, the individual’s body breaks down the food, mostly into sugar. This sugar enters the bloodstream and this signals the pancreas to release insulin, which works as a switch that allows the sugar to energize the cells. But if diabetes keeps sugar in the blood too long, it can lead to serious problems like kidney disease, heart problems and blindness.
In 2019, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association.