Advocates for affordable insulin react to Eli Lilly capping prices

Advocates for affordable insulin react to Eli Lilly capping prices
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 4:08 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Those fighting to make insulin affordable got welcomed news Wednesday.

The CEO of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced it was capping the out-of-pocket cost of the life-saving drug at $35.

“And so while we could wait for Congress to act or the health care system in general to apply that standard, we’re just applying it ourselves,” CEO Dave Ricks said. “Lilly’s going to buy down all of our customers out of pocket costs to $35 at the pharmacy counter automatically.”

As of May 1, Lilly is also reducing the list price of its non-branded insulin to $25 a vial. Right now, it’s listed at $82 a vial.

“It still only costs between $3 and $6 to make this vial of insulin, so $82 is still ridiculous,” said Angela Lautner, a Type 1 diabetic and a chapter advocate for Kentucky Insulin 4 All.

Lautner says it finally feels like their years of fighting for crucial healthcare access is beginning to pay off, but options are still limited for many.

“Last year, I called pharmacies here in NKY, and unfortunately, it’s hard for them to stock insulin, to begin with,” Lautner said. “Maybe that’s going to change soon. I hope it does.”

The American Diabetes Association says the average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. Demand has increased as diabetes becomes the fastest-growing chronic disease in the world.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky estimates the average person with diabetes spends $4,800 a year on their medication after insurance.

“So when you look at some of our poorest Kentucky counties, that’s about 20% of the median income,” said Ashley Brauer with Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “That’s a huge percentage of costs that are going toward these life-saving drugs.”

Advocates are also asking that House Bill 141 regarding an emergency insulin program gets on Thursday’s Health Committee agenda. That measure would ensure that every uninsured and underinsured Kentuckian is able to walk out of a pharmacy with a 30-day supply of insulin at a cost of $0 to $25. The bipartisan measure has 24 sponsors from both sides of the aisle and was introduced in January.