UPDATE 3-Sanofi to cut US price of its most-prescribed insulin by 78%

Company has a 40% share of the US long-acting insulin market

By Reuters

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A pharmacist holds a box of the drug Lantus SoloStar, made by Sanofi Pharmaceutical, at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah. - Reuters file
A pharmacist holds a box of the drug Lantus SoloStar, made by Sanofi Pharmaceutical, at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah. - Reuters file

Published: Fri 17 Mar 2023, 4:25 PM

Sanofi SA said late on Thursday it will cut US list prices for its most-prescribed insulin product, Lantus, by 78 per cent starting next year after similar moves by rivals Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly and Co .

The French drugmaker will also extend its $35 out-of-pocket pricing programme to all patients with commercial insurance using Lantus.

The move comes as U.S. President Joe Biden has pushed to extend to most Americans the $35 cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs made available to Medicare recipients by the Inflation Reduction Act.

In addition to Lantus, Sanofi said it will cut by 70 per cent the list price for its fast-acting insulin, Apidra.

Sanofi said it already offered a lower priced version of Lantus but that it had not been taken up widely by insurance programmes.

The branded list price of Lantus is $438.07 for the pre-filled pens and $292.07 for a 10 ml vial. Those would come down to $96 and $64, respectively.

The company said it has a 40 per cent share of the US long-acting insulin market and a 4 per cent share of the rapid-acting market.

About 8.4 million of the 37 million people with diabetes in the US use insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Rival Novo Nordisk on Tuesday said it would cut U.S. list prices for several insulin products by up to 75 per cent next year. That followed Lilly's March 2 decision to cut list prices by 70 per cent for Humalog and Humulin, its most commonly prescribed insulin products.

Most Americans with insurance do not regularly pay list price for insulin, but they may have an insurance co-pay based on the drug's list price or pay full price up to a certain amount of money spent.

Uninsured people often have to pay the full list price, forcing many patients to ration or skip doses. The companies also offer savings programs outside of insurance.

The price cuts will allow Sanofi, Novo and Lilly, which combined control about 90 per cent of the U.S. insulin market, to avoid paying substantial rebates to the US government Medicaid program in 2024.

Under a US law, drug companies are required to rebate the Medicaid program if annual price increases on medicines outpace inflation. The law capped the maximum payments at the price of the drug, but that cap will be removed in January of 2024.

“After the price drop, Sanofi will actually make money off Lantus in Medicaid, when at current prices, it would have had to pay Medicaid," said Dr. Inmaculada Hernandez, a drug pricing expert and associate professor at the University of California at San Diego.

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