Novo Nordisk to slash U.S. insulin prices by up to 75%, following move by Eli Lilly

In Health

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Novo Nordisk Inc. NovoLog brand insulin pens are arranged for a photograph in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, April 5, 2019.

Alex Flynn | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Novo Nordisk on Tuesday announced plans to slash the price of several insulin drugs by up to 75% in the U.S., becoming the latest drugmaker to make sharp price cuts after years of public outrage over the high cost of diabetes care. 

Novo Nordisk, one of the world’s biggest insulin makers, will cut the list price of its NovoLog insulin by 75% and the prices for Levemir and Novolin by 65%, the company said in a press release. The price changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. They will cover insulins that come in vials and injection pens.

NovoLog’s list price will fall to $139.71 from $558.83 for a pack of five injection pens. For a vial, the price will decrease to $72.34 from $289.36. 

The company also said it plans to reduce the list price of its unbranded insulin products to match the lowered price of each respective branded insulin. 

“We have been working to develop a sustainable path forward that balances patient affordability, market dynamics, and evolving policy changes,” Steve Albers, Novo Nordisk’s senior vice president of market access and public affairs, said in the release. “Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously.”

A Novo Nordisk spokesperson also told CNBC that the price cuts “have been in development for many months, but due to increased stakeholder interest, we accelerated to announce now.”

Novo Nordisk’s actions were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement comes two weeks after drugmaker Eli Lilly said it would cut the prices of its most commonly prescribed insulins by 70% and expand a $35 monthly cap on patients’ out-of-pocket costs starting in the fourth quarter. Novo Nordisk, Lilly and Sanofi control over 90% of the global insulin market. 

The move also comes after insulin manufacturers faced years of pressure from lawmakers to make the life-saving hormone more affordable for people with diabetes. The Inflation Reduction Act capped monthly insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $35 per monthly prescription, but fell short of providing protection to diabetes patients who are covered by private insurance.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, earlier this month introduced a bill that would cap the list price of insulin at $20 per vial.

High prices have forced many Americans to ration insulin or reduce their use of the drug. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that in 2021, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults either skipped, delayed or used less insulin to save money.

About 37 million people in the U.S., or 11.3% of the country’s population, have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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