Lilly nabs co-branded insulin deal with Walmart

Walmart has teamed up with a new insulin partner. Beginning in September, the retailing giant will no longer sell Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) insulin under its ReliOn brand name, but instead will market Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY) Humulin drug under the "dual brand" Humulin ReliOn.

The drug will be part of Walmart's ReliOn line of diabetes management products, including blood-glucose meters, test strips, and so on. It's already a blockbuster for Lilly, with $1 billion in 2009 sales, but it's an older insulin drug that's since been succeeded by Lilly's Humalog. That product turned in $2 billion in 2009 sales.

"[A]s the nation's largest retailer, Walmart touches more consumers than any other retail organization in the country," Keith Johns, Lilly's senior director for insulins in the U.S., says in a statement. "This collaboration offers a unique opportunity to provide a low-cost therapy to large numbers of people affected by diabetes."

The Walmart deal gives Lilly its first co-branded product, Reuters points out. What's unclear is just how much money the drugmaker might reap from selling Humulin through Walmart, which, after all, prides itself on low, low prices. The retailer will set the price, the Wall Street Journal reports, but hasn't done so yet.

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