Facing political pressure, Sanofi follows Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk in slashing insulin prices

Health, Fitness & Food

A pharmacist holds a box of the drug Lantus SoloStar, made by Sanofi Pharmaceutical, at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, January 9, 2020.
George Frey | Reuters

Sanofi on Thursday said it’s planning to cut the U.S. price of its most popular insulin drug by 78% and cap monthly out-of-pocket costs at $35 for people who have private insurance starting next year. 

In addition to its widely prescribed Lantus, the French drugmaker will reduce the list price of its short-acting insulin Apidra by 70%. Sanofi already offers a $35 monthly cap on insulin for uninsured diabetes patients.

The company is the last major insulin manufacturer to try to head off government efforts to cap monthly costs by announcing its own steep price cuts for the lifesaving hormone. 

Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk made similar sweeping cuts earlier this month after years of political pressure and public outrage over the high costs of diabetes care. The three companies control over 90% of the global insulin market. 

“Sanofi believes that no one should struggle to pay for their insulin and we are proud of our continued actions to improve access and affordability for millions of patients for many years,” said Olivier Bogillot, Sanofi’s U.S. head of general medicines. The change takes effect Jan. 1.

President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act capped monthly insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $35, but it did not provide protection to diabetes patients who are covered by private insurance.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced a bill earlier this month that would cap the list price of insulin at $20 per vial.

Both the president and Sanders on Tuesday directly called on Sanofi to slash its prices after Novo Nordisk announced its own cuts that day.

Roughly 37 million people in the U.S., or 11.3% of the country’s population, have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 8.4 million diabetes patients rely on insulin, the American Diabetes Association said.

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