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Eli Lilly launches lower-priced insulin lispro Posted 14/06/2019

Eli Lilly announced on 22 May 2019 that it had launched the lower-priced authorized biosimilar version of its diabetes treatment Humalog (insulin lispro) in the US.

The news follows an increasing focus on high drug prices in the US and the announcement by Eli Lilly in March 2019 that it would introduce the lower-priced biosimilar [1].

The company has announced that insulin lispro injection is now available for order in pharmacies at a 50% lower list price than its identical medicine, Humalog U-100 (insulin lispro injection). Eli Lilly has made the biosimilar available as both a vial and a KwikPen format. Furthermore, the company states that ‘because they are the same insulin, pharmacists will be able to substitute Insulin Lispro Injection for Humalog’.

Insulin lispro injection has a list price of US$137.35 for a single vial and US$265.20 for a pack of five KwikPens. But the company also points out that ‘currently, about 95% of people in the US pay US$95 or less a month for their Humalog prescription and 43% pay US$0 at the retail pharmacy’. Adding that ‘with the launch of Insulin Lispro Injection, even more people will pay lower amounts at the pharmacy’.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 30 million Americans with diabetes, most of whom require insulin. However, despite the fact that insulin has been available since the 1920s, prices have been regularly increasing. A 2016 study estimated the annual cost of insulin per patient almost tripled over 11 years, from US$231 in 2002 to US$736 in 2013 [2]. While another study estimated that the cost of manufacturing a year’s supply of an insulin analogue ranged between US$78 and US$133 per patient [3]. This raises the question of how companies can justify charging nearly US$140 for a vial of insulin [1].

Rival biologicals maker, AbbVie, has also announced discounts, this time on its adalimumab biological, Humira. The company is reportedly offering 5%−10% price discounts on Humira. However, it has been speculated that this is not an altruistic move, but is purely to secure formulary positioning for Skyrizi (sankizumab-rzaa), which received both European and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in April 2019.

AbbVie is obviously planning ahead, as Humira will only face competition from biosimilars in the US from 2023, after securing a whole plethora of deals with biosimilars makers [4–6].

Source: AbbVie, Eli Lilly

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References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Eli Lilly to introduce half-price authorized insulin biosimilar in US [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Jun 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/Eli-Lilly-to-introduce-half-price-authorized-insulin-biosimilar-in-US
2. Hua X, Carvalho N, Tew M, et al. Expenditures and prices of antihyperglycemic medications in the United States: 2002-2013. JAMA. 2016;315(13):1400-2.
3. Gotham D, Barber MJ, Hill A. Production costs and potential prices for biosimilars of human insulin and insulin analogues. BMJ Glob Health. 2018;3(5):e000850.
4. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. AbbVie and Coherus sign licensing deal for Humira biosimilar [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Jun 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/AbbVie-and-Coherus-sign-licensing-deal-for-Humira-biosimilar
5. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. AbbVie makes more deals delaying adalimumab biosimilars in the US [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Jun 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/AbbVie-makes-more-deals-delaying-adalimumab-biosimilars-in-the-US
6. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Boehringer Ingelheim finally signs licensing deal for Humira biosimilar [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Jun 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/Boehringer-Ingelheim-finally-signs-licensing-deal-for-Humira-biosimilar

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Source: AbbVie, Eli Lilly

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