Lilly amps Type 1 diabetes partnerships to reach more young people

Eli Lilly is renewing and expanding a longtime Type 1 diabetes partnership to support more than six times as many children in the next 10 years.

Working with Life for a Child, Lilly plans to expand care to 150,000 young people with diabetes over the next decade, up from 23,000 last year. The global initiative provides free immediate care with medicine and equipment like reusable pens and monitors, but also longer-term education and support in living with the chronic illness.

As part of the new push, Life for a Child is joining with diabetes non-profit and advocacy group Beyond Type 1. That well-known group's four co-founders include Jonas Brothers singer Nick Jonas and "Top Chef" alum Sam Talbot from the Bravo TV series. The group claims to be the largest diabetes online organization with a myriad of efforts that fund everything from political lobbying and education programs to research for cures and assistance with medical supplies.

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The Lilly collaboration is focused on 65 developing countries—including India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Bolivia—where young people with Type 1 face medicine and healthcare access problems.

Since beginning the partnership 12 years ago, Lilly has donated 2.4 million vials of insulin through Life for a Child. Under the renewed agreement, Lilly will now provide mealtime and basal insulin and reusable pens and will pick up the packing and shipping costs for those supplies through Direct Relief.

The expanded program is part of the Lilly 30x30 program which looks to improve care for 30 million people living with limited resources by 2030.

“Insulin has improved dramatically since it was first discovered a century ago, but there is still much work to be done to ensure equitable access to quality diabetes care, medicines, and support programs across the globe,” Mike Mason, president of Lilly Diabetes, said in a news release.

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Early in the COVID-19 crisis last year, Lilly beat back rumors of insulin supply chain issues, insisting its pipeline was full and that contrary to what some patients had heard from pharmacies, none of its products were on back order, including insulin.

Lilly also saw a spike in requests for financial help during the pandemic—up 32% overall in March with spikes of more than 90% after it ran an ad campaign offering assistance for people who have lost jobs and health insurance.

In April, it instituted a copay card value program for patients, with or without insurance, to get their Lilly's insulin prescriptions for a flat $35 per month. In September, Lilly made the plan permanent and added Medicare patients starting this month.

The plan covers most Lilly insulins, the company says, including Humalog. The Lilly Insulin Value Program inception followed a year after Lilly faced criticism and Congressional scorn in April 2019 over insulin pricing. In May 2019, it moved to cut its Humalog generic lispro cost by 50%, down to $137 per vial.