More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, a chronic disease that affects how a person’s body turns food into energy. Many of those living with diabetes need insulin to survive, but the price of the medication in the United States is often expensive.
Last August, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 capped insulin prices at $35 per month for Medicare patients only. Months later, in March 2023, drugmakers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — the three largest insulin manufacturers in the U.S. — announced plans to cut prices on some of their insulin products. The companies account for over 90% of the global insulin market and produce nearly all of the insulin in the country.
But online searches and several social media posts show that some people are wondering if these recent cuts mean the price of insulin will now be capped at $35 for everyone and for all types of insulin.
Is the price of insulin capped at $35 for everyone?
No, the price of insulin isn’t capped at $35 per month for everyone. The $35 cap only applies to insulin for seniors who have Medicare.
Drug manufacturers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi recently announced price cuts on some of their insulins. But people with private insurance coverage, Medicaid or no insurance may still have to pay more than $35 per month for their insulin.
WHAT WE FOUND
The price of insulin is not capped at $35 per month for everyone living with diabetes in the U.S. The Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law in August 2022, capped insulin prices at $35 a month, but only for seniors who have Medicare.
On March 1, 2023, drug manufacturer Eli Lilly announced that it has plans to slash the price of some of its most commonly prescribed insulins by 70% by the end of the year. The company also said it was immediately capping out-of-pocket costs for its insulin at $35 or less per month for people with commercial insurance at participating retail pharmacies.
“The aggressive price cuts we're announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes,” said Eli Lilly chair and CEO David A. Ricks. “Because these price cuts will take time for the insurance and pharmacy system to implement, we are taking the additional step to immediately cap out-of-pocket costs for patients who use Lilly insulin and are not covered by the recent Medicare Part D cap.”
Although there are no price guarantees for people who are uninsured, Eli Lilly said individuals without insurance can visit InsulinAffordability.com and download the Lilly Insulin Value Program savings card in order to receive Eli Lilly insulins for $35 per month.
A couple of weeks after Eli Lilly’s announcement, drugmaker Novo Nordisk said on March 14 that it is lowering the U.S. list prices of four of its legacy insulin brands, specifically Levemir, Novolin, NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30, by up to 75% starting on Jan. 1, 2024. For example, a vial of Levemir will soon be $107.85, while the FlexPen version of the insulin will be priced at $161.77.
The company also offers copay savings cards for several of its insulin products to eligible patients with commercial insurance plans for as little as $25 to $35.
Pharmaceutical company Sanofi announced on March 16 that it will cut the list price of Lantus, its most widely prescribed insulin in the U.S., by 78% on Jan. 1, 2024. The company said it is also working to establish a $35 cap on out-of-pocket costs for Lantus for all patients with commercial insurance by that date.
Sanofi also offers an Insulins Valyou Savings Program for people without insurance, which enables them to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulin products at $35 for a 30-day supply regardless of their income level.
After Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi agreed to substantially reduce their insulin prices, President Joe Biden issued a statement saying that “Congress should still pass legislation to ensure everybody can get insulin for no more than $35 per month.”
Lisa Murdock, the American Diabetes Association’s chief advocacy officer, also said in a recent statement that the organization would “continue advocating for efforts in Congress and states across the country to ensure insulin is affordable to everyone with diabetes who relies on it to survive.”
“We are encouraged that all of the major manufacturers have taken steps to make insulin more affordable, but the fight is not over,” Murdock said.