What’s the latest on insulin price cuts and why did Big Pharma do it?

March 28, 2023

If you or someone you care about has diabetes, there’s no doubt that you’ve been closely following the news about insulin price cuts.

An estimated 38 million Americans – roughly 10% of the population – suffer from diabetes and about 8 million require insulin to treat their disease. For years, Voices for Affordable Health has heard from concerned consumers who simply can no longer afford this life-saving medication, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month.

The three pharmaceutical companies that control nearly 90% of the global insulin supply – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – all announced in March that they would slash insulin prices, capping out-of-pocket costs for patients to no more than $35 a month. The price cuts take effect by Jan. 1, 2024.

This is major news for many Americans who have been forced to cut back on their insulin use, just to cut costs. Natalie Stanback, who lives in Dallas, told NBC News she will finally be able to afford medication for her 11-year-old daughter.

Another relieved mother, Kathy Sego of Indiana, said she’s glad her adult son will no longer have to ration his insulin. But, she asks: “What’s the catch?”

Good question, Ms. Sego.

Inma Hernandez, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, told NBC public pressure, as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, certainly played a role. The Inflation Reduction Act caps monthly insulin costs at $35 for seniors on Medicare.

Professor Hernandez and others in the media have also speculated that a new federal rule penalizing drugmakers that raise their prices faster than the rate of inflation also pushed the insulin companies off the profit gravy train.

How do the reductions affect you or someone you know? Share your personal stories (and selfies!) with Voices for Affordable Health.