DIABETES

Novo Nordisk to Slash U.S. Insulin Prices by Up to 75%, Following Move by Eli Lilly

Alex Flynn | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Novo Nordisk Inc. NovoLog brand insulin pens are arranged for a photograph in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, April 5, 2019.

  • Novo Nordisk is planning to slash the price of several insulin drugs by up to 75% in the U.S.
  • The price changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. 
  • The announcement comes after a similar move by Eli Lilly earlier this month

Novo Nordisk on Tuesday announced plans to slash the price of several insulin drugs by up to 75% in the U.S., becoming the latest drugmaker to make sharp price cuts after years of public outrage over the high cost of diabetes care. 

Novo Nordisk, one of the world's biggest insulin makers, will cut the list price of its NovoLog insulin by 75% and the prices for Levemir and Novolin by 65%, the company said in a press release. The price changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. They will cover insulins that come in vials and injection pens.

NovoLog's list price will fall to $139.71 from $558.83 for a pack of five injection pens. For a vial, the price will decrease to $72.34 from $289.36. 

The company also said it plans to reduce the list price of its unbranded insulin products to match the lowered price of each respective branded insulin. 

"We have been working to develop a sustainable path forward that balances patient affordability, market dynamics, and evolving policy changes," Steve Albers, Novo Nordisk's senior vice president of market access and public affairs, said in the release. "Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously."

A Novo Nordisk spokesperson also told CNBC that the price cuts "have been in development for many months, but due to increased stakeholder interest, we accelerated to announce now."

Novo Nordisk's actions were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement comes two weeks after drugmaker Eli Lilly said it would cut the prices of its most commonly prescribed insulins by 70% and expand a $35 monthly cap on patients' out-of-pocket costs starting in the fourth quarter. Novo Nordisk, Lilly and Sanofi control over 90% of the global insulin market. 

The move also comes after insulin manufacturers faced years of pressure from lawmakers to make the lifesaving hormone more affordable for people with diabetes.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said over Twitter that he was "pleased" with Novo Nordisk's announcement.

"This builds on the important progress we made last year when I signed a law to cap insulin at $35 for seniors," he said. "I urge others to follow."

The Inflation Reduction Act capped monthly insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $35 per monthly prescription, but it fell short of providing protection to diabetes patients who are covered by private insurance.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a Twitter post the announcement is "good news" and called on Sanofi to follow suit.

"Thanks to grassroots pressure Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have now cut the price of insulin...But much more needs to be done," Sanders said, adding that the Senate would hold a hearing "on the need to guarantee insulin at an affordable price to everyone who needs it."

Earlier this month, the senator introduced a bill that would cap the list price of insulin at $20 per vial.

High prices have forced many Americans to ration insulin or reduce their use of the drug. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that in 2021, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults either skipped, delayed or used less insulin to save money.

About 37 million people in the U.S., or 11.3% of the country's population, have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright CNBC
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