Lilly Pharmaceuticals (LLY) is the first pharma company in the United States to sell one of its brand drugs as a half price generic. The drug is an authorized generic version of their popular Humalog insulin medication.
Lilly’s announcement comes in response to President Trump’s, Congressional and consumer pressure on Big Pharma to lower their high priced drugs. We outlined President Trump’s and Congressional criticisms in a previous blog.
In response, Lilly has now introduced this insulin generic which is made at the same factory but carries a different label. The insulin generic is called Lispro. The list price for Lispro will be $137.35 a vial, and the list price for a five-pack of KwikPens will be $265.20.
In contrast, a 20 milliliter vial of their human insulin, Humulin sells for $1487.00. To give you a perspective on how much brand name drug prices have skyrocketed, this 20 milliliter insulin vial sold for $175.57 in 2004.
Today, the cost to produce one vial of human insulin is between $2.28 and $3.42. Most amazing, also today, the cost to produce one vial of generic insulin is between $3.69 and $6.16.
Lilly Pharmaceuticals: Why Introduce Discounts Now?
Lilly’s announcement is in response to growing anger at the pharmaceutical industries stupendously high drug prices. President Trump, Congress, and consumers are up in arms. The focal point for this anger is the drug insulin.
Indeed, the average list price for insulin has tripled between 2002 and 2013, according to the American Diabetes Association. More than 30 million Americans have some form of diabetes. Hardest hit by these high drug prices are families on fixed incomes and senior citizens.
In response, some families have protested outside offices of the big insulin makers like Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk. Some brought ashes of their children who died after rationing their insulin.
Last month, the Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation and last fall, a bipartisan group of more than 290 lawmakers released a package of proposals to lower insulin costs.
Despite this recent move by Lilly, critics are still angry. They see this as a Solomon-like move. Payers and employers can continue purchasing Humalog and continue receiving large rebates from Lilly. These payments insure Lilly gets placed on lists of medicines that are reimbursed by insurance.
Lilly Pharmaceuticals: Future Moves?
While this is a small step in the right direction, the fact remains that Humalog insulin prices have gone up 585% between 2001 and 2015.
No doubt there will be more protests. Stay tuned.