Sanofi becomes latest drugmaker to announce insulin price cuts, caps privately insured costs at $35


Sanofi is cutting the list price of Lantus, the most commonly prescribed insulin in the United States, by 78% and imposing a $35 monthly cap on those with private insurance, the company announced Thursday. The change enters into force on 1.1.

The move follows similar moves by Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk this month. These three companies dominate the global insulin market.

Insulin makers have faced increased public and government pressure to lower their prices for more diabetics in the wake of the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps insulin prescriptions at $35 a month for Medicare beneficiaries.

Sanofi is also reducing the list price of its short-acting Apidra insulin by 70 percent.

Uninsured Americans are eligible for Sanofi’s Insulins Valyou Savings program, which allows them to buy one or more insulins for a 30-day supply for $35. Another offer allows the uninsured to purchase a Soliqua injection for just $99 per pencil case, for up to two pencil cases for a 30-day supply.

Earlier this month, Eli Lilly announced a series of price cuts that will reduce the prices of its most commonly used forms of insulin by 70%. Eli Lilly also said it will automatically cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 for people with private insurance who use participating pharmacies, and will expand its Value for Insulin program, which caps out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 or less. month for the uninsured.

Then Novo Nordisk said Tuesday that it would cut the list prices of several of its most popular prefilled insulin pens and vials by up to 75 percent. However, the company did not say it would expand its programs that cut out-of-pocket costs for patients, which has been a focus of President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats. It runs several programs to lower costs for people with diabetes.

Lowering list prices generally helps lower costs for insured Americans who have not met their deductibles and the uninsured. Once the insured has met their deductible, they usually pay the lower price of their insurance plan.

The high cost of insulin, which is relatively cheap to manufacture, has been in the spotlight for many years.

Last year, Democrats in Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket insulin costs to $35 a month per prescription starting this year. Republicans blocked a measure that would have extended that price cap to private insurance.

In his State of the Union address last month, Biden called for capping the price of insulin at $35 a month for all Americans. He later praised Eli Lilly’s move, describing it as a “big deal” and urged other drugmakers to do the same. He noted Novo Nordisk’s announcement of lowering drug prices in his speech on Wednesday.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 16.5% of people in the US who use insulin report regulating it because of cost.

The average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, the American Diabetes Association says. The trend has continued, with the average retail price of insulin rising 54% between 2014 and 2019, according to GoodRx, which tracks drug prices, distributes coupons and operates a telemedicine platform.

The demand for insulin has increased significantly as diabetes has become the world’s fastest growing chronic disease, according to a study published in 2022.

In the United States alone, the number of adults with diabetes has doubled in the past 20 years, and according to the CDC, more than 37.3 million people have it. 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 for a diagnosis of 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 convert food into energy.

When a person eats, their body breaks down the food, mostly into sugar. This sugar enters the bloodstream and signals the pancreas to release insulin, which acts as the key that allows the sugar to energize the cells. But if diabetes keeps sugar in the bloodstream for 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.

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