Eli Lilly & Co. announced Wednesday that it will cut the prices of some of its older insulin products this year “and immediately expand a cap on costs insured patients pay to fill prescriptions,” The Associated Press reports.
That will provide “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,” AP’s Tom Murphy writes. “Lilly’s changes also come as lawmakers and patient advocates pressure drugmakers to do something about soaring prices.”
Lilly said it will cut by 70 percent the list prices for its most-prescribed insulin, Humalog, and for another one, Humulin, in the fourth quarter of the year, which starts in September. “The drugmaker didn’t detail what the new prices would be,” Murphy notes. “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.”
Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University who studies drug costs, told Murphy that the changes probably won’t affect Indianapolis-based Lilly much financially because the two insulins already have competition.
Medicare started applying that cap in January, as part of recent legislation.
Insulin is an essential hormone that converts food into energy. “People who have diabetes don’t produce enough insulin,” Murphy notes. “People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to survive. More than 8 million Americans use insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association. Research has shown that prices for insulin have more than tripled in the last two decades, and pressure is growing on drugmakers to slow the increases.”
Drug manufacturer may be seeing “the writing on the wall that high prices can’t persist forever,” said Larry Levitt, an executive vice president with the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care, told Murphy. “Lilly is trying to get out ahead of the issue and look to the public like the good guy.”