The world's three premier makers of insulin are reducing prices like never before. In a span of less than three weeks, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi—in that order—have announced price cuts to some of their insulins in the U.S., answering calls to do so from President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
Sanofi is the latest to fall in line, saying in a Thursday press release that it would slash the list price of what it says is its most popular insulin, Lantus, by 78% and cap the out-of-pocket cost at $35 per month for all patients with commercial insurance. The company also will cut the list price of its short-acting Apidra by 70%.
The measures will kick in Jan. 1, 2024, and come on top of other insulin price reduction initiatives Sanofi took last year. Last June, the company said it would reduce the cost of its insulin products from $99 to $35 per month for uninsured residents of the U.S.
That move was a preemptive strike to the Insulin Act, an effort led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, last year to cap the price of insulin at $35, which was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans. Later in the summer, the Inflation Reduction Act did cap the price at $35 for seniors on Medicare Part D.
“We launched our unbranded biologic for Lantus at 60 percent less than the Lantus list price in June 2022,” Olivier Bogillot, Sanofi’s U.S. general medicines chief, said in the release. “Despite this pioneering low-price approach, the health system was unable to take advantage of it due to its inherent structural challenges.”
Sanofi’s latest reduction of Lantus' price comes after Lilly said earlier this month that it would cut the cost of its most commonly prescribed insulins by 70% and expand its Insulin Value Program, which caps the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $35 per month.
After that move, Sanders challenged Novo Nordisk and Sanofi to do the same. Earlier this week, Novo Nordisk revealed that it would reduce the list price of its NovoLog insulin by 75% and slice the cost of Novolin and Levemir by 65%, starting next year.
“We are pleased to see others join our efforts to help patients as we now accelerate the transformation of the U.S. insulin market,” Bogillot said. “Our decision to cut the list price of our lead insulin needs to be coupled with a broader change to the overall system to actually drive savings for patients at the pharmacy counter.”
The moves are in response to Democrat-led pressure from the government, including a familiar appeal from Biden during this year’s State of the Union address to lower the cost of insulin.
In 2021, the Rand Corporation pointed out that the average list price in Canada was $12 for insulin compared to $98.70 in the U.S. Due to its high price, many people in the U.S. that need the life-saving treatment have turned to rationing.