Lilly to offer half-price, ‘authorized generic’ insulins
Lilly announced Tuesday that it will offer “authorized generic” versions of two of its most popular insulins beginning in April, with list prices 50% lower than the company’s branded versions, according to an industry press release.
Insulin lispro protamine and insulin lispro injectable suspension (Humalog Mix 75/25 KwikPen) and insulin lispro injection 100 U/mL (Humalog Junior KwikPen) make up more than 90% of prescriptions written for a Lilly mealtime insulin, according to the company. These insulins are identical molecules to the branded versions and may be substituted at the pharmacy counter, according to Lilly.
"Lilly is committed to offering the broadest suite of solutions for people who need help affording their insulin, and our lower-priced insulins are important options," Mike Mason, president, Lilly Diabetes, said in the release. "But real change to our reimbursement system is needed. Insurance coverage should ensure no one with diabetes is forced to ration or skip doses for financial reasons."
As Healio previously reported, Lilly announced in March 2019 that it would introduce an authorized generic version of insulin lispro injection 100 U/mL in the United States at a 50% lower list price than the branded version. The insulin is made available through a Lilly subsidiary, ImClone Systems. In November, more than 67,000 people filled prescriptions for insulin lispro injection, according to Lilly, and approximately 10% of people using Humalog have transitioned to the lower-priced option. Insulin lispro injection is now distributed by all major U.S. wholesalers and can be ordered by any pharmacy.
In the new release, Lilly said it will begin negotiations immediately with wholesalers and payers to make these additional lower-priced insulins available.
“Until a comprehensive solution is reached, we will continue our affordability solutions that provide thousands of people each month with access to insulin at significantly reduced cost or for free,” Mason told Healio in September.
In September, Novo Nordisk also announced that it will offer authorized generic versions of its insulin aspart and insulin aspart mix beginning this month, with the follow-on brands priced 50% lower than the current list price of its branded versions of the drugs. In a company press release, Novo Nordisk stated that insulin aspart (NovoLog) and insulin aspart mix (NovoLog Mix), the company’s most widely prescribed insulins, will be available from the newly established Novo Nordisk affiliate Novo Nordisk Pharma Inc. List prices will be $144.68 for a 10 mL vial of insulin aspart, $268.73 for a box of five insulin aspart pens, $150.06 for a 10 mL vial of insulin aspart mix and $279.41 for a box of five pens of insulin aspart mix.
In April 2019, Sanofi introduced an expansion of its Insulins Valyou Savings Program that allows patients with diabetes to access Sanofi insulins for a flat rate of $99 per month, according to a press release from the company. The expanded savings program, which took effect in June, allows people with diabetes in United States to purchase up to 10 boxes of pens or 10-mL vials per month for $99 total with a valid prescription. Sanofi launched the savings program in April 2018, at the time enabling those who pay cash to pay set prices of $99 for one 10-mL vial or $149 for one box of insulin pens.
Demands for action
In April, the three manufacturers of insulin, along with the nation’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers, CVS Health, Express Scripts and Optum RX, appeared together before Congress to respond to the growing protest over insulin access.
“All the activity in this space in the last few months is remarkable,” Alvin C. Powers, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center and director of the division of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Healio in a recent interview. “The role of the American Diabetes Association and groups like the Endocrine Society cannot be underestimated. This began as an initiative through ADA back in 2017 when they launched an online petition and 500,000 people signed it. All of this snowballed and generated momentum that galvanized everyone.”
The lower-priced version of Humalog Mix75/25 will be known as “Insulin Lispro Protamine and Insulin Lispro Injectable Suspension Mix75/25 KwikPen (100 units/mL).” The lower-priced version of Humalog Junior KwikPen will be known as “Insulin Lispro Injection Junior KwikPen (100 units/mL). Both will have a list price of $265.20 for a package of five KwikPens. – by Regina Schaffer
Disclosures: Mason is president of Lilly Diabetes. Powers reports no relevant financial disclosures.