Pharmaceutical Giant Eli Lilly Chooses to Release a Generic Insulin Option in Hopes of Addressing High Drug Prices

insulinEli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant known for their rapid-acting insulin, Humalog, has officially decided to release a generic version of insulin that will be nearly half the price of its name-brand product.

Not long before this announcement, many pharmaceutical leaders were gathered in order to discuss the issue concerning confusingly high drug prices. One of the main targets of this debate was the increase in pricing for insulin, in which people who have diabetes have been drastically rationing due to their inability to afford what they need to survive.

Humalog, one of the nation’s more expensive insulin options, has had a big increase in their cost over the years. Senator Ron Wyden states, “The list price of Eli Lilly’s main insulin drug, Humalog, went from $21 a vial in 1996 to its current list price of $275.” He then continues to question these actions by stating that, “Humalog isn’t thirteen times as effective as it used to be… A vial doesn’t last thirteen times longer than it did in 1996.”.

They are not alone though, nor are they even the worst case of inflated pricing within the industry. One such example is Lantus, produced by Sanofi, who has raised their prices from $244 to $431 since 2013. Another is Novo Nordisk, whose insulin product, Levemir, has increased from $120.64 for 100 units/ml vial in 2012 to $293.75 in 2018.

That being said Eli Lilly CEO, Dave Ricks, states “We don’t want anyone to ration or skip doses of insulin due to affordability. And no one should pay the full Humalog retail price,” he continues by describing the release of the generic drug as “a bridge that addresses gaps in the current system until we have a more sustainable model.”.

The price of Eli Lilly’s new generic insulin will be marketed at $137.35 per vail and $265.20 per pack of five. This does not mean they will stop selling Humalog though, and it will remain at its current pricing.

Ben Wakana, an executive director of the nonprofit Patients For Affordable Drugs, has stated his belief that the price of $140 is still too high for a drug that has been around for nearly a century. He comments, “Millions of Americans with Medicare or employer coverage will continue to face Eli Lilly’s exorbitant list price.”. Wakana believes that a major change is in order to fix a broken market, such as insulin prices, in order to solve this crisis.

Growing pharmaceutical prices have become a major concern for those within the government, and many in the Senate have been vocal about the need for improvement in list prices for a number of drugs involved in the investigation of this case.

Those who are interested in gaining more information about cases like this, or who want to keep up-to-date on the latest legal proceedings, check out the Jeffrey Newman Law help center and blog!