Lilly bows to the inevitable on insulin price cuts

Lilly’s move to cut the prices of older insulin products will be a boon to US diabetics not covered by Medicare. It is also politically canny, and not such a commercial disaster as it might initially appear. For a start Lilly is keeping premium pricing for its newer insulins, not to mention its other diabetes drugs like Trulicity and blockbuster-in-waiting Mounjaro. But it has cut the prices of biosimilar and branded Humalog as well as Humulin, and in April will launch Rezvoglar, a much cheaper biosimilar version of Sanofi's Lantus. It has also begun programmes that could allow almost all US patients – insured and uninsured – to get Lilly insulins for $35 per month. The company might not lose out too badly. The market for insulin analogues is already in decline thanks to other price pressure – Medicare slashed out-of-pocket costs at the start of the year, with more cuts on the way – and the entry of biosimilars. Insulin products were collectively worth $20bn in 2014, but are forecast to sink to less than $12bn by 2028, Evaluate Pharma data show. The question for the other companies, including Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, is whether to follow suit.

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