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Facing political pressure, Sanofi follows Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk in cutting insulin prices

  • Sanofi plans to cut the US price of the most-prescribed insulin by 78% and cap monthly out-of-pocket costs at $35 for people with private insurance.
  • The change comes into force on 1 January.
  • It comes after Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk made similar sweeping price cuts earlier this month.

A pharmacist holds a box of the drug Lantus SoloStar, made by Sanofi Pharmaceutical, at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on January 9, 2020.

George Frey | Reuters

Sanofi said Thursday it plans to cut U.S. prices of its most popular insulin drug by 78% and cap monthly out-of-pocket costs at $35 for people with private insurance starting next year.

In addition to the widely prescribed Lantus, the French drug manufacturer will reduce the list price of the short-acting insulin Apidra by 70%. Sanofi already offers a $35 monthly cap on insulin for uninsured diabetes patients.

The company is the latest major insulin maker to try to fend off government efforts to contain monthly costs by announcing its own steep price cuts for the life-saving hormone.

Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk made similarly sweeping cuts earlier this month after years of political pressure and public outrage over the high costs of diabetes care. The three companies control over 90% of the global insulin market.

“Sanofi believes that no one should struggle to pay for their insulin, and we are proud of our continued actions to improve access and affordability for millions of patients for many years,” said Olivier Bogillot, Sanofi’s U.S. head of generic medicines. The change comes into force on 1 January.

President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act capped monthly insulin costs for Medicare recipients at $35, but it did not provide protections for diabetes patients covered by private insurance.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced a bill earlier this month that would cap the list price of insulin at $20 per vial.

Both the president and Sanders on Tuesday directly asked Sanofi to cut prices after Novo Nordisk announced its own cuts that day.

About 37 million people in the United States, or 11.3% of the nation’s population, have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 8.4 million diabetics are dependent on insulin, the American Diabetes Association said.

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