Cheaper option available for insulin


The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018.

Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced Monday that it will sell a generic version of Humalog, its branded insulin product.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps the body use glucose for energy.

"We've engaged in discussions about the price of insulin with many different stakeholders in America's health care system", said David A. Ricks, Lilly's chairman and chief executive officer.

Two U.S. senators last month launched an investigation into rising insulin prices, writing to Lilly and two other leading manufacturers, asking them why the cost of the almost 100-year-old medication had rapidly risen.

Sanofi said its insulin products were provided to uninsured or commercially insured patients for half their list price under a program launched a year ago. Insurance companies don't always pass rebates on to consumers. They are typically knocked down by rebates negotiated with pharmacy benefit managers.

The lower price might still be unaffordable for many diabetics who pay the full amount for the drug.

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In a statement, the company said the generic version will be called Insulin Lispro and will have a list price 50% cheaper than Humalog, the company's most commonly used insulin.

Novo said it was offering insulin at $25 per vial at many national pharmacy chains and had a program to help uninsured patients. The company says Humalog will remain available for users who want to continue buying it through their current insurance plans.

"Clearly, the insulin cartel is feeling pressure after years of price gouging a lifesaving drug". Committees in both congressional chambers have also started investigating pricing practices of major insulin makers.

The authorized generic version of Humalog will cost $137.35 a vial, roughly what Marston was paying in 2012.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette said in a separate statement that she urges other drugmakers to take actions similar to Lilly's.

"I would hope that we're going to embarrass [the insulin manufacturers] to some extent like we embarrassed Mylan on Epi-Pen, if you remember".

The announcement comes as the skyrocketing cost of insulin and other life-saving drugs has been the focus of state- and federal-level debate, with lawmakers publicly criticizing high drug prices and people sharing their personal struggles affording necessary medicines.