July 01, 2021
3 min read

Walmart launches first and only private brand analog insulin

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Walmart announced it will partner with Novo Nordisk to launch a first-ever private brand analog insulin, retailing up to 75% off the cash price of branded insulin products, according to a press release.

Insulin aspart injection is now available exclusively through Walmart’s private ReliOn brand, with vials retailing for $72.88 and FlexPens retailing for $85.88. The retail prices represent a 58% and 75% discount, respectively, compared with other insulin products, according to the release. It is available for purchase at Walmart pharmacies this week and at Sam’s Club pharmacies beginning in mid-July across the U.S. Customers will need a prescription to purchase the products.

insulin injection
Source: Adobe Stock

“We know many people with diabetes struggle to manage the financial burden of this condition, and we are focused on helping by providing affordable solutions,” Cheryl Pegus, MD, executive vice president of health and wellness at Walmart, said in the release. “We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations. With ReliOn NovoLog insulin, we’re adding a high-quality medication for diabetes to the already affordable ReliOn line of products and continuing our commitment to improve access and lowering cost of care.”

In a statement provided to Healio, Novo Nordisk noted the company has partnered with Walmart for more than 20 years to make human insulin available, also via the ReliOn label.

“We know that affordability challenges are driven by many factors and there is no single solution to help everyone,” the statement reads. “We remain committed to providing options in the marketplace to help people afford the medicine they need. We’re proud to have partnered with Walmart for more than 20 years to make human insulin available via the ReliOn label and we look forward to Walmart’s introduction of a short-acting analog insulin with ReliOn NovoLog.”

The American Diabetes Association said it welcomed all affordable solutions to make diabetes management more successful.

“Diabetes often comes with high medical costs, estimated around $9,601 per person per year,” Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the ADA, said in the release. “We welcome all affordable solutions that make diabetes management more accessible to millions of Americans living with diabetes. We encourage everyone to ask their health care provider questions to better understand what the right and affordable treatment is for their unique medical needs.”

In a statement provided to Healio, insulin manufacturer Eli Lilly said “all insulin affordability options are important and should be embraced.”

“Lilly has introduced several programs over the last few years, and it’s important that we continue to see options that make insulin affordable for people living with diabetes,” Gregory Andrew Kueterman, senior adviser of communications at Lilly Diabetes, told Healio. “In fact, as of today, anyone using Lilly insulin — regardless of their insurance status — is now eligible to purchase their monthly prescription for $35 or less. This follows the introduction of our $35 co-pay card last year and our participation in the Senior Savings Model for people in the Medicare Part D program.”

Lilly noted that 77% of people using Humalog, the company’s most commonly used insulin, paid $35 or less for their monthly prescription, “but finding solutions that meet everyone’s needs remains a priority for Lilly.”

In a statement, insulin manufacturer Sanofi told Healio it is “continuously exploring ways to make insulin even more affordable and accessible for patients,” noting that all commercially insured patients are eligible for co-pay assistance programs limiting out-of-pocket expenses for most people to less than $10. Uninsured patients are eligible for Sanofi’s

Insulins Valyou Savings Program that allows patients with diabetes to access Sanofi insulins for a flat rate of $99 per month.

JDRF released a statement calling the announcement “a step forward” toward insulin affordability, but cautioned that more must be done.

“JDRF welcomes Walmart’s announcement regarding their plan to offer lower-cost insulin,” the organization stated in the release. “For people with type 1 diabetes, insulin is a lifesaving drug that no one should ever have to ration or go without. No one should die because they can’t afford their insulin. JDRF has long advocated for affordable and predictable out-of-pocket costs of insulin. The rising cost of insulin is a fundamental issue faced by those living with diabetes, and JDRF applauds this new effort.”

The partnership comes after manufacturers have faced increasing pressure over the rising price of insulin. In 2019 and 2020, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk announced half-price, “authorized generic” versions of their most popular insulins, with list prices 50% lower than the companies’ branded versions.

For more information on diabetes resources at Walmart, visit www.walmart.com/diabetes.