Cost of Insulin
For the past decade, the market has seen a global surge in insulin prices. The cost of medical treatment, as well as the number of hospitalizations for people with diabetes, is tripled compared to those who don’t have the same condition. One of the major contributing factors for this inevitable climb of payment is the kind and form of insulin that is given to different patients. Treatment regarding diabetes varies as it includes the type of insulin medication and the severity of the condition that needs remedy.
Thankfully, in the year 2019, the cost of insulin dropped to nearly 6% from its original prices. However, not all brands of insulin observed the stated action. While the prices of insulin remain debatable, generic insulins were already approved to provide patients and consumers affordable options for diabetes treatment. Some of these generics include insulin lispro and insulin aspart.
The approval of using generics as the cheaper alternative for treating diabetes paved the way for the deterioration of insulin cost worldwide. Aside from generics, the rise of biosimilar counterparts of branded medications also played a significant role in the financial value of insulin. Biosimilars are close copies of branded insulin, but they can be more expensive than generics.
As mentioned, one of the first approved generic versions of insulin is insulin lispro, with an average market price of $41.66. It is the counterpart of Humalog, a type of rapid-acting insulin. Other than that, the insulin aspart, which is equal to its counterpart Novolog – with an average generic price of around $132.91.
The average price of the mentioned generic versions is way cheaper compared to its branded forms. Humalog has an average retail price of $168.45, while Novolog has around $339.18. Prices may still vary on different pharmacies, but today, with the availability of generics and biosimilars, pharmaceutical companies have also adjusted their expenditures to align their visibility and presence to the market.
Traditional Insulins vs Modern Insulins
One of the glaring differences between traditional insulin and modern insulins is the price and cost of the products. Traditional insulins are economical and cheap, explaining the steady financial value of Novolin and Humulin. Note that for many years, traditional insulins have always been cheaper, making it the go-to option for people who cannot afford the modern type of insulins.
For the past years, consumers of both Novolin and Humulin have seen a remarkable action in the field of medicine for being able to purchase cost-effective insulin. Some major pharmaceutical companies have worked together to provide only the best insulin products but at a cost affordable for consumers and patients.
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, several pharmaceutical companies have released their options and programs for people who are having a hard time purchasing insulins. The high prices of insulin have greatly affected thousands of people with diabetes during these uncertain times. Thus, as a response to this glaring issue, discounts and offers are laid out by big pharmaceutical companies.
Assistance programs have been established to help those patients who cannot afford insulin medications. However, problems may arise, such as the lack of support coming from our very own healthcare professionals. The lack of diabetes care specialists can affect the programs that may have given patients a chance to live longer with the help of free and accessible insulin medications.
Some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies that made an outstanding move in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are:
- Novo Nordisk – The company offered free insulin supply for patients who lost their health insurance amidst COVID-19. The program will function for 90 days.
- Sanofi – This French multinational pharmaceutical company also offered a free 30-day supply of insulin to people affected by the pandemic.
- Eli Lilly – Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, this American pharmaceutical company launched the Insulin Value Program. Its main objective is to provide patients who do not have health insurance or people who have commercial health insurance a monthly insulin prescription worth of $35 copay card.
The Role of Pharmaceutical Companies
Currently, there are three pharmaceuticals that take advantage of the necessity of insulin for millions of individuals across the globe. These are Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly. About 90% of the global supply of insulin is generated from these companies. While they may have the same goal, which is to provide global support to people living with diabetes, the competition between the companies is crystal clear.
The cost of insulin does not only depend on the type of diabetes to treat or the kind of treatment that people with diabetes require. The competition also plays a significant part in the prices of insulin, regardless of the type of insulin available on the market. It is a common practice for one company to mirror another company’s movement in terms of the product cost. And that is the same thing for the aforementioned companies. Thankfully, the approval of generics made by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) opened doors for the affordability and cheap supply of insulin worldwide. After all, health care shouldn’t be expensive, it should be affordable and cost-effective.