Amid new pricing pressure, Lilly cuts cost of generic insulin by another 40%

A bottle of insulin surrounded by a stethescope
In recent years, insulin makers Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have bowed to pressure to reduce prices. (Getty/Samara Heisz)

With drugmakers facing renewed calls to lower the cost of prescription drugs, Eli Lilly has taken preemptive action, dropping the cost of its generic insulin by 40%.

Starting next year, Lilly’s list price for Lispro Injection will be $82.42 for an individual vial and $159.12 for a five-pack of pens. The move prices Lispro 70% less than its branded counterpart, Humalog U-100, and returns the cost of insulin to 2008 levels, the company said.

It isn’t the first time Lilly has cut insulin prices in response to mounting pressure. In 2019, the company rolled out Lispro Injection as a generic alternative to its popular Humalog, charging $137.35 per vial and $265.20 for a five pack. The prices were half of what Lilly was fetching for Humalog at the time.

That move came just weeks after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed out in a drug-price hearing that Humalog’s cost per vial had jumped from $21 in 1996 to $275 in 2019, a 13-fold increase.

“Humalog isn’t 13 times as effective as it used to be,” Wyden said.

Lilly's Tuesday move is another in a series of price cuts prominent insulin makers have rolled out over the last few years. 

RELATED: Lilly answers insulin price-hike critics with 50% off Humalog generic

Three months ago, in collaboration with Novo Nordisk, Walmart began selling private-label analog insulin at a deep discount. Vials of its ReliOn NovoLog are priced at $72.88, which the company said was $101 less than the branded version.     

Also in 2019, another major insulin maker, Sanofi, created the Insulin Valyou Savings Program, charging patients $99 per month regardless of their income. Last year, Novo Nordisk followed suit, establishing My$99Insulin, at the same price.

RELATED: Facing lawsuit over insulin pricing disclosures, Novo Nordisk inks $100M settlement with disgruntled investors

Lilly has a similar program as well and with the new price reduction, those who are enrolled can fill monthly prescriptions for $35. The program is limited to those who are uninsured, have commercial insurance or are covered by Medicare Part D. 

“Today’s price cut can further help people who are exposed within our healthcare system—the underinsured and uninsured,” Lilly CEO David Ricks said in a statement. “Lispro Injection has been adopted by a third of Humalog U-100 customers. We hope this additional 40 percent cut can expand affordable insulin to more people with diabetes.