Eli Lilly (LLY) shares traded lower Monday after it said it plans to launch a cut-price version of its top- selling insulin treatment Humalog as pressure to lower drug costs continues to ripple through the pharmaceutical industry.
Insulin Lispro, the generic version of the popular diabetes medication, will be priced at around $137 per vial in the United States, Lilly said, around half its current cost, with the average user needing about 2 vials a month, based on their individual weight. A five-pack of Kwik Pens will be cut to $265, which can last about a month on average, Eli Lilly said.
"We've engaged in discussions about the price of insulin with many different stakeholders in America's health care system: people living with diabetes, caregivers, advocacy groups, health care professionals, payers, wholesalers, lawmakers, and leading health care scholars," Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said in a statement. "Solutions that lower the cost of insulin at the pharmacy have been introduced in recent months, but more people need help. We're eager to bring forward a low-priced rapid-acting insulin."
Eli Lilly shares were marked 2.4% lower by mid-day trading in New York Monday, compared to a 0.88% decline for the S&P 500
Policymakers have pressured Eli Lilly, as well as some of its industry rivals, to lower the costs of its life-saving medicines; diabetes can impact several major organs including the eyes and heart if left untreated.
Protesters have also held well-attended and publicized gatherings outside of the Indianapolis-based company's headquarters demanding reasonable insulin prices.
"Patients, doctors and policymakers are demanding lower list prices for medicines and lower patient costs at the pharmacy counter," Ricks wrote in a blog posted on the company's website. "You might be surprised to hear that we agree - it's time for change in our system and for consumer prices to come down."
"That's why Lilly announced today we will soon launch a half-price version of our Humalog insulin, called Insulin Lispro," he added. "It's an authorized generic - identical to Humalog but without the brand name. Its list price will be 50 percent less than Humalog's - immediately providing a more affordable option for certain Americans in high-deductible health insurance plans, the uninsured and seniors that hit the coverage gap in their Medicare Part D plans."