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Novo follows Sanofi, Lilly with insulin price cut in US

Price cut will be effective from January 2020

novo nordisk

Novo Nordisk has said it will launch a cut-price version of its insulin drug NovoLog, in the face of criticism over the price of insulin in the US.

The Danish drugmaker says it will offer an authorised generic version of NovoLog (insulin aspart) at around $145 per vial, roughly half the branded drug’s current US list price, from January 2020.

It will also launch a cash card programme next year, which will make around a month’s supply of any of its older analogue insulin products in vial or pen formats available for $99, which will be available to those with or without insurance.

The move follows price-cutting measures by Sanofi – which said in April it would reduce the cost of insulin for uninsured people to $99 per month – as well as Eli Lilly which offered a 50% cheaper version of its Humalog (insulin lispro) the following month.

Patient groups have complained of difficulties getting hold of Lilly’s authorised generic however, and have accused the company of carrying out a public relations stunt by trumpeting a cheaper product that is scarcely available.

The reductions come after the average wholesale price of four of the most popular insulins more than tripled between 2007 and 2017. This prompted the US government to look into ways to reduce costs, including most recently the possibility of importing insulin and other drugs from countries such as Canada.

Access to affordable insulin has become a political hot potato, driven by many reports of patients struggling to afford the injections rationing doses and putting themselves at risk of life-altering complications and even death.

Executives from Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Lilly – the three biggest suppliers of insulin worldwide – were summoned to a Congressional hearing to explain the price rises earlier this year.

They denied they were responsible, pointing to the complexity of the health insurance system in the US and – in particular – pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which the drugmakers claim have a vested interest in keeping list prices high.

With PBMs blaming manufacturers for the situation, lawmakers have lost patience with the ‘tit-for-tat’ antics and are threatening legislative action, while some have started to question whether the close parity of pricing for insulin products suggests some form of collusion.

In a statement, Novo Nordisk said the cut-price products “will directly benefit even more people with diabetes – including those with insurance and those without – as we work toward much needed longer-term systemic reform”.

“What a patient pays for medicine is influenced by insurance benefit design and pricing,” it goes on.

“While Novo Nordisk has acknowledged the role of list price, more needs to be done to improve how insurance benefits cover vital medicines, especially through high deductible health plans. Those plans push list prices to patients to fulfil a deductible, which sometimes means paying thousands of dollars.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th September 2019

From: Marketing

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