Eli Lilly will be cutting prices for older formulae of insulin later this year, and capping prices on other prescriptions for more patients.

Many people with diabetes face thousands of dollars in annual costs for the insulin that keeps them alive. Before the 1992 introduction of insulin therapy, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis was a death sentence. Over 90% of patients were dead within five years. Medical firm Eli Lilly was the first company to begin large-scale production of insulin, supplying all of North America. There are many kinds of insulin today, but some form or another of the drug is needed by almost every single diabetic.

Eli Lilly announced on Wednesday that they would be cutting the list prices for Humalog and Humulin, their most commonly prescribed insulin, by at least 70% this October. That will drop the current price of Humalog from $274.70 per 10-milliliter vial to just $66.40.

According to Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks, the purpose for these price cuts is to bring down the cost to patients. He says that Lilly often offers discounts from their list prices, but those discounts usually don’t reach patients, absorbed along the way by insurers or pharmacy benefit managers.

“We know the current U.S. health care system has gaps,” he said. “This makes a tough disease like diabetes even harder to manage.”

Last month, President Joe Biden called for a patient cost cap, so no patient would pay more than $35 for a vial. He calls this announcement by Lilly a response to his call.

“It’s a big deal, and it’s time for other manufacturers to follow,” Biden said.

He also noted that Americans “for far too long” have faced much higher drug costs than people in other countries. More than 8 million Americans use insulin, almost 2.5% of the country’s population. The American Diabetes Association estimates that they currently spend an average of nearly $6.000 a year, out of pocket. It’s considered the single most expensive chronic condition to the country.

Photo: Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock

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