March 14, 2023 – Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk will reduce the U.S. list prices of some of its most widely used insulin products by as much as 75%, the company announced Tuesday.
The move comes after the U.S. government capped Medicare copays for insulin at $35 and drugmaker Eli Lilly announced earlier this month that it was adjusting prices and patient assistance programs to also keep costs at $35 a month or lower.
Novo Nordisk said the price of Novolog would drop 75%, and its products Levemir and Novolin would be reduced by 65%, bringing the prices of vials down to between $48.20 and $107.85 and the prices of pens down to between $91.09 and $161.77. The prescription price search engine GoodRx recently showed the cost of a month-long vial of Novolog is currently around $300.
“We have been working to develop a sustainable path forward that balances patient affordability, market dynamics, and evolving policy changes,” said Steve Albers, Novo Nordisk senior vice president for market access and public affairs, in a statement. “Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously.”
The new Novo Nordisk prices won't go into effect until January 2024. Eli Lilly previously said its new prices will start in the last few months of 2023.
Even after the reductions take effect, out-of-pocket costs will likely vary for people who have private insurance policies because copays are set by insurance companies.
Insulin helps regulate blood sugar in people who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which are chronic conditions that affect how the body turns food into energy, the CDC explains. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to survive, and some people with type 2 diabetes need insulin to manage blood sugar levels to prevent damage such as to the kidneys, eyes, and nerves. More than 37 million adults in the U.S. have diabetes, although not all people with diabetes use insulin.
Political and public pressure to manage insulin prices has been mounting recently. Between 2007 and 2018, insulin prices have more than doubled, and some people with diabetes have been rationing their insulin due to its ever rising cost, The Washington Post reported.