Eli Lilly to introduce half-price authorized insulin biosimilar in US

Biosimilars/General | Posted 19/04/2019 post-comment0 Post your comment

With high drug prices increasingly coming into the spotlight, Eli Lilly has announced that it will introduce a lower-priced authorized biosimilar version of its diabetes treatment Humalog (insulin lispro) in the US.

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In fact, Eli Lilly stated that its biosimilar version of the blockbuster diabetes treatment will be available in US pharmacies at a 50% lower list price. The biosimilar will be sold at a cost of US$137.35 for a single vial and US$265.20 for a pack of five pens. The company said that it has already made vials and pens of the lower-priced insulin and is now working with supply chain partners to make them available in pharmacies as quickly as possible. The biosimilar will be made available through Eli Lilly subsidiary, ImClone Systems.

The company says that Humalog will remain available, but ‘introducing an alternative insulin option allows Lilly to provide a lower-priced insulin more quickly while providing payers time to renegotiate downstream contracts and adjust to new system economics’.

Eli Lilly stated that this announcement ‘is one of many initiatives the company has introduced to deliver lower out-of-pocket options to people living with diabetes’. The company also says that it is introducing this authorized biosimilar in an effort to alleviate ‘the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for Americans living with chronic conditions’ and that it hopes that this announcement can be ‘a catalyst for positive change across the US healthcare system’.

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 [1]. 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 [2]. This raises the question of how companies can justify charging nearly US$140 for a vial of insulin.

Pharma giant Sanofi received European approval for its insulin lispro biosimilar, Insulin Lispro Sanofi, in July 2017 [3] and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its follow-on insulin lispro, Admelog, in December 2017 [4].

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1. 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.
2. Gotham D, Barber MJ, Hill A. Production costs and potential prices for biosimilars of human insulin and insulin analogues. BMJ Global Health. 2018;3:e000850.
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. EMA approval for insulin and rituximab biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Apr 19]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/EMA-approval-for-insulin-and-rituximab-biosimilars 
4. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. FDA approves follow-on insulin lispro Admelog [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Apr 19]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/FDA-approves-follow-on-insulin-lispro-Admelog

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Source: Eli Lilly

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