All three of the major insulin manufacturers (Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk) have finally announced plans to lower their insulin prices amid mounting criticism over their high costs in the United States and patients’ demands for lower cost options. To date, the manufacturers have put the blame on PBMs by pointing to declines in their products’ realized price, despite significant list-price increases.
Novo Nordisk is the last one to join Eli Lilly and Sanofi in making a cost-cutting move on their insulin products. On September 6th, the Danish company announced that it will offer authorized generics of its Novolog brands at a 50 percent discount from their originators.
Novo will also offer a $99 cash card program. Regardless of insurance status, patients can buy 3 vials or 2-packs of any Novolog FlexPen or FlexTouch product. This should cover a one month supply for most patients. These programs will launch in January 2020.
Lilly’s generic Humalog product is half the price of the brand; they unveiled it in March 2019. Lantus maker Sanofi soon followed suit in April by expanding the Insulin Valyou Savings Program, which lowers the cost of its insulin products to $99 per month.
In 2018 10.1 percent of adults aged 18 and over had diagnosed diabetes. The National Center for Health Statistics published a survey in August 2019: “Strategies used by Adults with Diagnosed Diabetes to Reduce their Prescription Drug Costs, 2017-2018”.
Of significance is that 14.9 percent of women and 11.6 percent of men were more likely to not take their medication as prescribed to reduce their prescription drug costs. Among adults diagnosed with diabetes in the past twelve months, 13.2 percent did not take their medication as prescribed and 24.4 percent asked their doctor for a lower cost medication. Those under age 65 were more likely to take their medication as prescribed and ask their doctor for a lower cost medication as compared to adults over age 65.
The percentage of adults who asked their doctor for a lower cost alternative was highest among those with private insurance, Medicare Advantage or Medicare only. Those with Medicare and Medicaid coverage were less likely to ask their doctor for a lower cost alternative.