A Calculated Step
Today Lilly announced they would be selling a generic version of their most popular short acting insulin Humalog. Per a press release;
“Reinforcing our commitment to lower out-of-pocket costs for people who need insulin, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) today announced we will introduce a lower-priced version of Humalog® (insulin lispro injection 100 units/mL) in the United States — providing people with diabetes an insulin option that will have a list price 50 percent lower than the current Humalog list price.”
The release goes onto state;
“The lower-priced version will be called Insulin Lispro—the same molecule as Humalog—and will be available in vial and pen options. The list price of a single vial will be $137.35. The list price of a five-pack of KwikPens will be $265.20.”
Naturally social media is filled with posts that while this is not a perfect solution this is a good first step.
Now we don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here but this move by Lilly was not done in response to all the noise about the “high out of pocket” cost of insulin, or stories about patients rationing insulin or patients dying because they could not afford their insulin. This move move was made as to change the narrative, to get ahead of something that was going to happen anyway.
As we have been stating for some time it was not a question of if but when a biosimilar short-acting insulin would do to the short-acting market what Basaglar did to the long-acting market. As we have noted many times Sanofi does have a biosimilar short-acting insulin but in typical Sanofi fashion they screwed up another diabetes product.
Lilly for their part should be credited as they knew that even though Sanofi was dumber than a box of hammers, it was just a matter of time before someone else came along and did what Sanofi should have done with Amdelog. This move is not just a brilliant marketing move but also puts tremendous pressure on Novo Nordisk to follow suit.
With this announcement Lilly has softened it imagine, received praise on social media and for the moment can rest easy. For the moment they are no longer seen as heartless executives who would sell their own mothers to make a buck but cute little kittens. Which shows just how clueless most people who are active on social media are as believe us Lilly did not make this move out of the goodness of their soles or because they cared so much about the “high” cost of insulin, Lilly did this after careful consideration taking into account a wide variety of factors but most of all could they make money.
They did not do this because they felt pressure from social media or Congress, they did this for business reasons. They knew what was coming they wanted to get out in front of what was coming and had the smarts to packages this in such a way that they would look good doing it. Even better their press release is full of all the stuff they want to be sure is heard. Take a look at this passage;
“The significant rebates we pay on insulins do not directly benefit all patients. This needs to change,” Ricks said. “There are numerous ideas, including the rebate reform proposal from HHS. For people with diabetes, a lower-priced insulin can serve as a bridge that addresses gaps in the system until a more sustainable model is achieved.” Bravo Mr. Ricks as you have just thrown PBM’s under the bus, you have made PBM’s the bad guys.
As much as we applaud this move we just know the folks on social media the West Coast mafia just wont be satisfied. Already they are saying this is just a first step and more should be done. Being the tree hugging socialists they are who haven’t a clue about how business really works they won’t be happy until insulin is given away for free. They cannot claim victory be gracious and thankfully to Lilly no they will do what all tree hugging socialist do they will overplay their hand.
These are the same idiots who said insulin pump choice and innovation would be stifled because of Medtronic and UnitedHealthCare doing an exclusive deal. These are the same idiots who supported competitive bidding for BGM then changed their minds once they learned that competitive bidding did what they wanted but not how they wanted it done. These are the same idiots who blamed JNJ for shutting down Animas, praised the evil empire when the 670G was approved and have gone radio silent as the 670G has failed to perform.
We are applauding Lilly not for what they did but for being smart about how they did it. They have changed the narrative. Even better they have placed the bullseye squarely on the backs of Sanofi and Novo Nordisk. And yes they have made insulin more “affordable”.This won’t do a damn thing to change outcomes but hey lets not let the facts get in the way of a good fantasy.