The drugmaker Sanofi is the third producer of insulin to announce it will lower the price of the drug that millions of Americans use to control their diabetes. This means the three companies that market the vast majority of insulin in the U.S. have said they will reduce their prices.
“This is more good news for people who rely on insulin and makes it even more likely that they will be able to find a lower-priced insulin that meets their needs,” says Leigh Purvis, AARP senior director of health care costs and access.
Sanofi’s March 16 announcement comes on the heels of similar moves made this month by Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, the other two companies that sell insulin. Since the beginning of 2023, a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act has capped the price of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries with drug coverage at $35 a month.
AARP, other advocates and many lawmakers have been urging the big pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices for the rest of Americans who need this life-saving medicine, as well as the prices of other prescription drugs. In his February State of the Union address, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation capping insulin at $35 a month for all Americans.
“It’s hard to think of another time when multiple drug companies have made these types of moves almost simultaneously and likely speaks to the incredible political pressure they’ve been under lately,” Purvis says.
An estimated 37 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 7 million patients rely on insulin to treat the disease. A month’s supply of the medication can cost hundreds of dollars, and a 2022 report from KFF (formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation) found that at least one out of five people with private health insurance pays more than $35 a month for their insulin.
Here’s how Sanofi plans to lower its insulin prices.
- Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, Sanofi will cut the list price of Lantus (insulin glargine injection), its most widely prescribed insulin in the U.S., by 78 percent.
- Also starting at the beginning of next year, Sanofi will cap out-of-pocket costs for Lantus at $35 for all patients with commercial insurance. Novo Nordisk said in its announcement that it will also institute a $35 cap for the commercially insured.
- Sanofi said that its current programs that help people afford insulin will remain in place, including a program that the company says in 2022 limited out-of-pocket expenses for those eligible to pay $15 or less for a 30-day supply.
In its news release, Sanofi said that in June 2022 it had launched an unbranded Lantus biologic insulin that was priced at 60 percent of the brand-name Lantus price. It had also capped the price of its insulin at $35 a month for people without insurance.