Major Drugmaker to Drastically Reduce Insulin Prices in United States
Drugmaker Novo Nordisk has announced that it will significantly reduce insulin prices in the United States beginning next year—a relief for Americans struggling with high prices.
Denmark-based Novo Nordisk will lower U.S. prices of several pre-filled insulin pens and vials by up to 75 percent for people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the company said in a press release on Mar. 14. The new prices will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The company’s Novolin and Levemir legacy insulin brands will see a price cut of 65 percent from their current list price. The other two legacy insulin brands, NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30, will see prices reduced by 75 percent.
More than 8.4 million Americana rely on insulin to survive. However, insulin is costly in the country. In fact, insulin costs tend to be 10 times more in the United States compared to other countries, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) claims.
Data from Wisevoter show that insulin costs an average of $98.70 per standard unit in the United States. The country with the next lowest price was Chile, where insulin cost $21.48, which is less than a fourth of the cost in America. The cheapest insulin price was in Turkey at $2.64, followed by Poland at $5.28 and Hungary at $6.14.
According to the ADA, 37.3 million Americans, accounting for 11.3 percent of the total population, had diabetes in 2019. New cases pop up at the rate of 1.4 million individuals per year.
In 2019, 96 million Americans aged 18 or older were estimated to have pre-diabetes. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the country.
According to Novo Nordisk’s new price list, NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30 vials will cost $72.34, while FlexPen will cost $139.71.
For Levemir, vials will cost $107.85, while FlexPen will be priced at $161.77. For Novolin, vials will be priced at $48.20 and the FlexPen at $91.09. Unbranded biologics like Insulin Aspart and Insulin Aspart Protamine/Insulin Aspart will also see price cuts.
“We have been working to develop a sustainable path forward that balances patient affordability, market dynamics, and evolving policy changes,” said Steve Albers, senior vice president, market access and public affairs, at Novo Nordisk, Inc.
“Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously.”
Like Novo Nordisk, drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. also announced price reductions earlier this month of its most commonly prescribed insulin products by up to 70 percent later this year.
“Like fellow drugmaker Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk won’t lose money on its insulin even with a big price cut. This just underlines how overpriced these drugs have been for decades,” David Lazarus, a business journalist on KTLA-TV, stated in a tweet on Mar. 14.
Between 1999 and 2019, insulin prices in the United States skyrocketed, with a vial of insulin Humalog, for example, jumping from just $21 to $332. Diabetic patients are estimated to be spending around $800 per month on average to cover their medical expenses, which forces many individuals to even skip critical doses.
In August, a proposal to cap the cost of insulin at $35 for Americans on private health insurance was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) called the proposal to cap insulin prices a “government drug-pricing scheme, part of a socialized medicine approach that would lead to fewer cures” and only end up raising health insurance premiums.
On Jan. 1, the Affordable Insulin Now Act came into effect that caps insulin costs for seniors on Medicare at $35. Texas is believed to be the biggest beneficiary of the price cap, with 114,000 seniors benefiting from it, followed by California with 108,000 seniors and Florida with 90,000 seniors.
North Dakota is estimated to see the highest average out-of-pocket savings, at $805, followed by Iowa and South Dakota at $725 each.