March 04, 2019
2 min read

Lilly announces plan for generic rapid-acting insulin

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Eli Lilly announced on Monday it will introduce an authorized generic version of insulin lispro injection in the United States, promising a list price that is 50% lower than the current Humalog list price, according to a press release from the company.

The lower-priced version, which will be available in vials and pens, will be called “insulin lispro” and is the same molecule as Humalog, according to the company. The list price of a single vial will be $137.35, according to Lilly. The list price of a five-pack of KwikPens will be $265.20.

The insulin will be made available as an authorized generic through a Lilly subsidiary, ImClone Systems. Humalog will also remain available for people who want to continue accessing it through their current insurance plans, according to the company.

"We've engaged in discussions about the price of insulin with many different stakeholders in America's health care system: people living with diabetes, caregivers, advocacy groups, health care professionals, payers, wholesalers, lawmakers and leading health care scholars," David A. Ricks, chairman and chief executive officer of Lilly, said in the release. "Solutions that lower the cost of insulin at the pharmacy have been introduced in recent months, but more people need help. We're eager to bring forward a low-priced, rapid-acting insulin.”

Introducing an alternative insulin option allows Lilly to provide a lower-priced insulin more quickly while providing payers time to renegotiate downstream contracts and adjust to new system economics, Ricks said in the release.

"While this change is a step in the right direction, all of us in the health care community must do more to fix the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for Americans living with chronic conditions," Ricks said. "We hope our announcement is a catalyst for positive change across the U.S. health care system."

The company stated that it began preparing manufacturing, labeling and shipping plans last year for the possibility of Lilly's insulin lispro, after exploring the logistics and feasibility of an authorized generic. Vials and pens of the lower-priced insulin have been manufactured, and Lilly will now work with supply chain partners to make them available in pharmacies as quickly as possible, it said in the release.

The news follows a December partnership announcement by Chinese insulin supplier Sandoz and Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals to commercialize biosimilar versions of insulins used to treat patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. According to an industry press release, the agreement covers biosimilar insulins in early and clinical development for the European Union and the U.S. States for the top three selling branded insulins by sales: glargine (Lantus, Sanofi), lispro (Humalog, Eli Lilly) and aspart (NovoLog, Novo Nordisk). Sandoz, which currently has eight marketed biosimilars, is a division of Novartis Group.


Under the terms of the agreement, Sandoz will be fully responsible for commercializing these medicines in the EU, U.S., Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Gan & Lee will be responsible for manufacturing and development, with support from Sandoz, and shall adhere to the stringent manufacturing requirements established for Sandoz biosimilars. Other specific terms of the agreement are confidential. – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: Ricks reports he is chairman and chief executive officer of Lilly.