Novo Nordisk will lower the U.S. list price of some of its insulin products by up to 75%, the Danish drugmaker said Tuesday.
The change — which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024 — follows a similar move by Eli Lilly, which said this month that it will lower the list price for several of its products, including Humalog, by 70% later this year.
But Eli Lilly also went a step further, immediately capping the out-of-pocket cost of all of its insulin products at $35 a month.
President Joe Biden praised Eli Lilly at the time, calling on other insulin makers to follow suit.
Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, along with the French drugmaker Sanofi, make up more than 90% of the insulin market in the United States.
Following Eli Lilly’s announcement, experts had predicted that other insulin makers would also make changes.
“Novo Nordisk is playing follow the leader here, after Eli Lilly cut prices substantially on insulin products,” said Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at KFF, formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said the company also faces stiff competition for these drugs.
“They have little to lose by making this change,” she said.
Novo Nordisk said Tuesday that its popular fast-acting insulins NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30 will cost $72.34 for a single vial and $139.71 for a pen, a 75% decrease in price.
The price of Levemir, a long-acting insulin, will be reduced by 65% to $107.85 per vial and $161.77 per pen, the company said. Novolin will see a similar price reduction, at $48.20 per vial and $91.09 per pen.
Most consumers do not end up paying the full list price of a drug; the out-of-pocket cost they pay at the pharmacy will depend on their insurance. Seniors on Medicare will pay no more than $35 per month out of pocket, thanks to a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that went into effect Jan. 1.
Levitt said Novo Nordisk’s move will likely provide the most relief to those who are uninsured or have high deductibles.
T1International, an advocacy group for people with diabetes, called Tuesday's move a "major win" for insulin users, but added that more needs to be done.
"A vial of insulin costs approximately between $3 and $6 to produce," the group said in a statement. "$72 for a single vial of NovoLog insulin is still too expensive, so we are keeping the pressure on to demand further reductions."
Novo Nordisk will continue to offer programs to make insulin more affordable.
"Novo Nordisk remains committed to ensuring patients living with diabetes can afford our insulins, a responsibility we take seriously," Steve Albers, the company's senior vice president for market access and public affairs, said in a statement.
Insulin costs in the U.S. are higher compared with other countries. According to the Rand Corporation, a public policy think tank, in 2018, the average list price for one vial of insulin in the U.S. was $98.70.
Sanofi is the only major insulin maker in the U.S. that hasn't announced price cuts to its products.
In a statement, a Sanofi spokesperson declined to say whether it would lower the list price for its insulin, instead pointing to company assistance programs that lower the out-of-pocket costs for the uninsured and people on private insurance.
"As we've done in the past, Sanofi will continue to review and update our programs and business strategy," the spokesperson said.