Sanofi in Lockstep with US Insulin Price Cuts

20.03.2023 - The world's largest insulin producers, Eli Lilly, NovoNordisk and Sanofi are now marching (almost) in lockstep to reduce US market prices, but not without tossing sideward barbs at the system.

At the beginning of March, Eli Lilly said it would chop prices for some insulin products by up to 70%, and Novo Nordisk followed up on Mar. 14 with the announcement that it would lower the list price of its NovoLog insulin by 75% and drop the price of Novolin and Levemir by 65% with effect from 2024.

Sanofi now says it will reduce the price of its top-selling Lantus by 78% and cap the copay at $35 per month for patients with commercial health insurance.

The French drugmaker’s changes, which also will include a 70% price cut for the short-acting Apidra, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024 and apply on top of other insulin price reductions it announced last year, including lowering prices to $35 per month— from previously $99 — for US residents without health insurance.

All of the changes come in reaction to Biden administration’s plans for an insulin price cap that were imbedded in the Inflation Reduction Act passed by the US Congress last year. These call for a $35 cap on the price paid through the Medicare healthcare plans for people 65 years old and older.

In a statement, Olivier Bogillot, head of Sanofi’s US general medicines division, in part blamed the problems on the US market structure.

The Paris-based company launched its unbranded biologic for Lantus at 60% below the Lantus list price in June 2022, Bogillot noted, but, “despite this pioneering low-price approach, the health system was unable to take advantage of it, due to its inherent structural challenges.“

“Our decision to cut the list price of our lead insulin needs to be coupled with broader change to the overall system to actually drive savings for patients at the pharmacy counter,” he added.

According to an analysis by think-tank Rand Corporation, no other country comes close to spending as much on insulin as the US. One contributing factor is said to be that the country relies more on newer, more expensive, forms, another that its lack of a single-payer system keeps prices unregulated.

Though former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare added modest improvements, all attempts to create a national health system in the US have failed, in major part torpedoed by conservative opposition in Congress.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist