Drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. announced on April 7 that it has rolled out a scheme to cap the out-of-pocket cost for insulin at $35, a move which will ease the financial burden on diabetes patients across the United States who may be struggling amid the CCP virus pandemic.
The co-pay scheme, titled the Lilly Insulin Value Program, is effective April 7 and allows those with commercial insurance, or no insurance, to purchase their insulin prescriptions for $35 per month. The initiative covers the majority of the drugmaker’s insulins, including widely-used Humalog injections.
“Too many people in the U.S. have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis, and we want to make sure no one goes without their Lilly insulin,” Lilly Diabetes President Mike Mason said in a statement. “We’ve been providing affordability solutions for a long time, but more is needed to help people during this unprecedented period.”
He highlighted that the program can be availed by those “without insurance at all.”
Lilly said patients with government insurance such as Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Part D, or any State Patient or Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, are not eligible for the Lilly Insulin Value Program.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million people cross the United States have diabetes or prediabetes. The cost of insulin, a life-sustaining medicine for people with type 1 diabetes, nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016.
Individuals with high-deductible health insurance plans often face thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs before their insurance starts paying.
“It’s critical that people with diabetes can reliably access insulin at a low, consistent out-of-pocket cost. Enabling a $35 per month insulin co-pay regardless of employment status will help many Americans in this difficult time,” said CEOs Aaron Kowalski and Thom Scher of non-profit organization JDRF-Beyond Type 1 Alliance.
Major insulin makers Lilly, Sanofi SA, and Novo Nordisk have lowered the costs of their diabetes drugs to counter heavy criticism from lawmakers and patients.
The move comes after the Trump administration last month unveiled a plan to limit the out-of-pocket cost for insulin to $35 per month for people who are enrolled in Medicare. The government plans to test the new pricing in 2021.
Lilly said it does not currently anticipate shortages of any forms of insulin during the COVID-19 crisis.
Patients who wish to enrol to the scheme have been urged to contact the the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center at 833-808-1234.
Reuters contributed to this report.