Novo Nordisk becomes latest producer to slash insulin prices


Drugmaker Novo Nordisk said it will slash list prices of several of its insulin products by as much as 75 percent, the latest major manufacturer to cut prices amid public pressure to reduce the cost of diabetes care.

The Danish company said it will also lower the wholesale price of unbranded biologics to match its branded products. The changes will not come into effect until January 2024.

“We have worked to develop a sustainable path forward that balances patient affordability, market dynamics and evolving policy changes,” Steve Albers, the company’s senior vice president, said in a statement.

The move comes two weeks after Eli Lilly cut the prices of its insulin products by 70 percent and expanded a program to cap self-service pricing to $35 a month. At the time, Novo Nordisk said it would “evaluate emerging patient needs and focus on sustainable solutions.”

Novo Nordisk declined to provide an executive for an interview. When asked why it is now deciding to cut prices, the company said in a statement that the plans were made months ago, “but due to increased interest from stakeholders, we have now accelerated the announcement.”

People with diabetes are chronically insulin deficient and often take regular injections to stay healthy. About 37 million Americans are living with diabetes, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to stay alive, while people with type 2 diabetes may take insulin to regulate their blood sugar or use other methods such as diet and exercise.

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According to the medical journal Lancet, the cost of some insulin drugs more than doubled between 2007 and 2018, with some people paying upwards of $1,000 when higher doses are required. Insulin costs have become the focus of growing public outrage as studies have shown that diabetics are rationing treatment. Activists have called for lower prices at public demonstrations, and President Biden highlighted the issue in his State of the Union address.

Beginning in January, the Inflation Reduction Act capped insulin costs for seniors on Medicare to $35 per month.

Life, death and insulin: As costs skyrocket, some desperate diabetics are rationing treatment

Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly’s actions likely won’t affect most diabetics covered by commercial insurance, experts say, but could bring significant savings for the uninsured and those with high-deductible health plans.

Sanofi, the other major insulin maker, said in a statement Tuesday that it “continuously listens to patients, patient advocates, caregivers and others to better understand additional actions we might be taking to address access or affordability issues.” It also provided a list of its programs to help cover the cost of its insulin.

Novo Nordisk has a centuries-old history of manufacturing insulin. Market dynamics for insulin have changed in recent years, manufacturers say, as insurers and pharmacy benefit administrators demand higher discounts off insulin wholesale prices and competitors offer new insulin products.

Civica Rx, a non-profit organization, plans to offer generic versions of insulin for sale in 2024 for no more than $30 per vial.

In a February securities filing, Novo Nordisk said that after rebates, it would price its products lower in 2023 than a year earlier, “primarily driven by insulin class.”

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In a statement Tuesday, Lisa Murdock, chief advocacy officer of the American Diabetes Association, said, “We’re excited to see more manufacturers continue to take steps to make insulin more affordable, and we hope others will follow suit.”


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