Lilly adding two more insulin options to discount program

Three weeks after launching an awareness campaign for cost-saving options for insulin, Eli Lilly and Co. is adding two more options for diabetics who need the medicine.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker said Tuesday morning it is introducing lower-priced versions of its Humalog KwikPen and Humalog Junior KwikPen.

Both insulins will be priced at $265.20 for a package of five pens—or 50% less than than the list prices of branded versions. Both are mealtime insulins that are expected to be available by mid-April.

The lower-priced version of Humalog Mix 75/25 will be known as Insulin Lispro Protamine and Insulin Lispro Injectable Suspension Mix 75/25 KwikPens (100 units per milliliter). The lower-priced version of the Humalog Junior KwikPen will be known as the Insulin Lispro Injection Junior KwikPen (also 100 units per milliliter).

The insulins are identical molecules to the branded versions and may be substituted at the pharmacy counter, Lilly said.

Last month, under fire from politicians, patients and health care advocates, Lilly rolled out its campaign, saying it wanted to “ensure people (with diabetes) are paying the lowest cost possible (for insulin) based upon their personal circumstances.”

The effort included a print campaign in numerous news and consumer publications, scheduled to run through March. It came after a much-publicized reported released by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., claimed prices of insulin products had gone up by 685% since 2001.

The report criticized Lilly over its promised effort to increase availability of Lispro for 50% less than than the brand-name equivalent, Humalog. The senators said Lispro is usually out of stock at pharmacies, and many pharmacists were unaware the product was available.

Lilly, along with drugmakers Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, produce 80% of the world’s insulin. Lilly’s Humalog rang up $648.9 million in the third quarter alone. Lilly will release full-year sales and earnings on Jan. 30.

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