Jennifer Barrett is the senior editor for Drug Topics® and Total Pharmacy®.
Insulin manufacturers are expanding insulin affordability options for patients with diabetes during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, both insulin manufacturers and legislators in some states are stepping in to ensure patients with diabetes are able to afford life-saving medications.
Following announcements of its recently-launched Lilly Insulin Value Program, Eli Lilly has made available non-branded versions of insulin lispro protamine and insulin lispro injectable suspension 100 units/mL (Humalog Mix 75/25 KwikPen) and insulin lispro injection, 100 units/mL (Humalog Junior KwikPen) at a 50% lower list price than branded versions.1
The non-branded insulin products are now available for order by US pharmacies, Lilly said. These non-branded insulin options are identical to the branded versions, with different packaging and a 50% lower list price of $265.20 for a package of 5 KwikPens.1
Lilly’s offering comes on the heels of Novo Nordisk’s announcement of its new Diabetes Patient Assistance Program (PAP), which provides free 90-day insulin to individuals experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. To apply, participants in the program do not need documented proof of income, but documentation showing loss of health care benefits, such as a job termination notice or job status change, or proof that COBRA benefits are being offered.2
In addition, if Medicaid benefits are denied, assistance for eligible patients can be extended past the 90-day window until the end of the year, according to Novo Nordisk.2
Novo Nordisk also offers a program that provides patients insulin at $99 per month. The program pays for 3 bottles of insulin or 2 boxes of their pens.
Earlier in April, the company introduced its Lilly Insulin Value Program, which allows anyone with commercial insurance and those without insurance to fill their monthly prescription of Lilly insulin for $35. The program covers most Lilly insulins, including insulin lispro injection 100 units/mL formulations.3
Meanwhile, states across the country have signed into law limits capping insulin co-payments for patients with diabetes. Recently in Virginia, for example, Governor Ralph Northam signed into law House Bill 66, which will limit cost sharing to $50 per 30-day supply of insulin for those with state-regulated commercial insurance. New York, Maine, Utah, New Mexico, Illinois, and West Virginia have all enacted similar laws, with varying co-pay limits.4
Even with these steps forward, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) urges for the elimination of all cost-sharing for insulin in state-regulated health insurance plans until the crisis passes, as well as continuous access to health care for residents with diabetes who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.4
1. Lower-priced versions of Humalog® Mix75/25 KwikPen® and Humalog® Junior KwikPen® now available. News Release. Eli Lilly; April 16, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2020. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/lower-priced-versions-humalogr-mix7525tm-kwikpenr-and-humalogr.
2. Novo Nordisk offers free 90-day insulin supply to people experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. News Release. Novo Nordisk; April 14, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2020. https://www.novonordisk-us.com/media/news-releases.html?122988.
3. New $35 Co-Pay Now Available Through Lilly Insulin Value Program in response to COVID-19 Crisis in the US. News Release. Eli Lilly; April 7, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2020. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/new-35-co-pay-now-available-through-lilly-insulin-value-program
4. Virginia Caps Insulin Co-Pays at $50 for Virginians with Diabetes. Press Release. American Diabetes Association; April 14, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2020. https://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2020/insulin-co-pays-virginia