Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) said it is teaming up with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts (NSDQ:ESRX) to offer discounts on the US pharma giant’s insulin products for uninsured patients and people with high-deductible insurance plans. The program will begin January 1, 2017 and will cover Lilly’s insulins Humalog, Humulin, and the biologic Basaglar. Lilly said it anticipates the program will provide some patients with an insulin discount as high as 40%.
Insulin drugmakers have been criticized this year for their drug pricing strategies. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) took to Twitter last month and wrote that “People are dying or getting sicker because they can’t afford their insulin, just so Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk can make outrageous profits.”
Lilly has worked with pharmacy benefit managers in the past. CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) said earlier this year that it would cover Basaglar on its national formulary instead of Sanofi‘s (NYSE:SNY) glargine products Lantus and Toujeo.
The company did caution that patients will need to go outside their health plan to access the discounted insulin prices, meaning the new retail price may not be applied to the patient’s annual deductibles.
“Changes in insurance benefit design have increased the cost of insulin for some people. While discounts and rebates paid by manufacturers make insulin affordable for most people, they don’t directly help the uninsured or people in the deductible phase of their high-deductible plans,” the company wrote in a statement. “And while some high-deductible plans exempt insulin from the deductible phase, others require people to pay most or all of the retail price until the deductible is met – meaning these people don’t fully benefit from rebates when they visit the pharmacy.”
“We understand the burden people face when paying full price for insulin,” Lilly Diabetes VP Mike Mason said. “This platform will effectively allow Lilly to lower our insulin retail prices for users of this platform while not affecting the reimbursement system for other people living with diabetes.”