Novo Nordisk will cut the US list price of some of its insulin products by up to 75%, the Danish drugmaker said on Tuesday.
The change — which will take effect Jan. 1, 2024 — follows a similar move by Eli Lilly, which this month said it would cut the list price of several of its products, including Humalog, by 70% later this year.
But Eli Lilly also went a step further, immediately limiting the out-of-pocket cost for all insulin products to $35 a month.
President Joe Biden praised Eli Lilly at the time, and called on other insulin makers to follow suit.
Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk together with the French pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi make up more than 90% of the insulin market in the USA.
After Eli Lilly̵[ads1]7;s announcement, experts had predicted that other insulin makers would also make changes.
“Novo Nordisk is playing follow the leader here, after Eli Lilly cut prices significantly on insulin products,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at KFF, formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said the company also faces stiff competition for these drugs.
“They have little to lose by making this change,” she said.
Novo Nordisk said Tuesday that its popular rapid-acting insulins NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30 will cost $72.34 for a single vial and $139.71 for a pen, a 75% price reduction.
The price of Levemir, a long-acting insulin, will be reduced by 65% to $107.85 per vial and $161.77 per pen, the company said. Novolin will see a similar price reduction, to $48.20 per vial and $91.09 per pen.
Most consumers do not end up paying the full list price for a drug; the out-of-pocket cost they pay at the pharmacy will depend on their insurance. Seniors on Medicare will pay no more than $35 per month out of pocket, thanks to a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that went into effect Jan. 1.
Levitt said Novo Nordisk’s move is likely to provide the most relief to those who are uninsured or have high deductibles.
T1International, an advocacy group for people with diabetes, called Tuesday’s move a “big win” for insulin users, but added that more needs to be done.
“A vial of insulin costs roughly between $3 and $6 to produce,” the group said in a statement. “US$72 for a single vial of NovoLog insulin remains too expensive, so we continue to push for further reductions.”
Novo Nordisk will continue to offer programs to make insulin more affordable.
“Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring that patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously,” Steve Albers, the company’s senior vice president of market access and public affairs, said in a statement.
Insulin costs in the US are higher compared to other countries. According to the Rand Corporation, a public policy think tank, the average list price for one vial of insulin in the United States was $98.70 in 2018.
Sanofi is the only major insulin manufacturer in the US that has not announced price cuts on its products.
In a statement, a Sanofi spokesperson declined to say whether it would lower the list price of the insulin, instead pointing to the company’s assistance programs that lower costs for the uninsured and people on private insurance.
“As we have done in the past, Sanofi will continue to review and update our programs and business strategy,” the spokesperson said.
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