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By Associated Press
A half-price version of Eli Lilly's popular Humalog insulin is now available, following the company's promise in March to give diabetics a more affordable alternative, according to violent criticism of high insulin prices.
Lilly, one of the top three insulin makers, said Wednesday it has started selling its own generic version of Humalog U-100 under the chemical name insulin lispro.
Indianapolis drugmaker said insulin lispro will cost $ 137.35 per vial, or $ 265.20 for a package of five KwikPens, one easier to inject.
These figures are the half list price Lilly charges for Humalog. The fast-acting insulin, which diabetics inject shortly before each meal, is used by around 700,000 Americans.
Lilly said the biggest savings would go to patients who are not insured, have a high deductible, or have Medicare Part D plans.
Insurance companies generally pay drug manufacturers far less than the list price, but many patients have to pay a percentage of the list price or the full amount until they meet their health plan's annual deduction.
Because insulin lispro is identical to Humalog, pharmacists will be able to replace half price generic. However, Lilly noted that some patients still pay less for Humalog than insulin lispro, depending on their insurance plan.
Patients with diabetes do not produce enough insulin to control blood sugar, or the body uses insulin effectively, forcing them to inject the hormone, usually several times a day.
The average insulin price tripled almost from 2002 to 2013, and prices have risen 10 percent or more each year since then, forcing many diabetics to ration their insulin. Some have ended up in hospitals and some have died as a result, which has led to congressional hearings on the issue.
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