Novo Nordisk recently revealed a plan to slash the price of insulin in the United States dramatically. The Danish drugmaker said pre-filled pens and vials of both long- and short-acting insulin injections could be discounted by as much as 75% within the year. It could affect various insulin brands like Novolog, Novolog Mix 70/30, Novolin, and Levemir. Furthermore, the cut will also lower the cost of unbranded products such as Insulin Aspart.
The move came on the heels of a similar announcement from pharma rival Eli Lilly only a few weeks ago. At that time, Eli Lilly said it would lower the list price for most [prescribed] insulin products by as much as 70%. These cuts will go into effect by the fourth quarter of this year.
While the Novo Nordisk price cuts will go into effect on Jan 1 of next year, the discounts will also be worth the wait. The price for NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30 will drop by 75%, bringing the single-vial price down from $289.36 to $72.34. FlexPen options will also dramatically decline from $500 to $139.71. Levemir and Novolin will each get cut by 65%.
Affordability has long been an issue for patients who need insulin, as prices have skyrocketed threefold over the last 20 years. And while many have advocated for lower prices because of the immediate–and growing–need for insulin products, it has taken far too long to see any financial relief.
Of course, the issue is complicated since health care in the United States is largely privatized, and life-saving interventions’ price–and availability–mostly depend on health insurance. For example, folks who are fortunate enough to have employer-sponsored health insurance typically pay very little out-of-pocket for products like insulin. In contrast, those who do not have insurance often have to look for coupons or other forms of subsidies. But even with employer coverage, sometimes the cost is influenced by the deductible, which must be met before seeing a price cut, which is also familiar to those with coverage through the public market.