Novo Nordisk follows Eli Lilly's lead, slashing insulin prices in the US

Two weeks after Eli Lilly answered the call to slash prices of its insulin products in the United States, Novo Nordisk has followed suit.

On Tuesday, the Danish company said it would reduce the list price of its NovoLog insulin by 75% and slice the cost of Novolin and Levemir by 65%. The cuts will kick in on Jan. 1 of 2024, the drugmaker said.

The company also will drop the price of its unbranded biologics to match the reduced prices of the branded insulins.

At the start of this month, Lilly said it would cut prices of its most commonly prescribed diabetes treatments by 70% and would cap the out-of-pocket cost for patients with insurance at $35 per month.

Both companies are reacting to pressure from Washington, D.C. to make their insulins more affordable in the U.S. In his State of the Union speech last month, President Joe Biden reiterated his familiar call to cap insulin prices at $35.

Biden also threatened to veto any effort by the Republican-controlled House to roll back the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). One of the provisions in the IRA is to make insulin available for $35 a month to patients on Medicare.

After Lilly’s initiative to cut prices, longtime pharma industry adversary Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent letters to the world’s other two premiere producers of diabetes meds—Novo Nordisk and Sanofi—demanding they drop the “outrageous” price of insulin in the U.S.

Last summer, Sanofi said it would slash the price of its insulin to uninsured people in the U.S. from $99 per month to $35.

What does Novo Nordisk’s price reduction mean? In the case of a five-pack of injection pens, the list price of NovoLog goes from $558.83 to $139.71. For a vial, it goes from $289.36 to $72.34. The new prices of Levemir will be $161.77 (injection pen) and $107.85 (vial). People with insurance typically don’t pay a drug’s list price.

“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 VP of market access & public affairs, said in a release.

Novo Nordisk’s price changes come amid increased demand for non-insulin diabetes treatment Ozempic and obesity drug Wegovy. The company reported a revenue increase of 16% last year and is projecting a similar sales boost this year.