Insulin Prices: Eli Lilly Cuts Costs, but More Needs to Be Done for Access, Affordability

  • Eli Lilly announced that it will be reducing the prices of some of its commonly-used insulins by 70%.
  • The pharmaceutical company will also expand its Insulin Value Program to cap out-of-pocket monthly costs for insulin at $35.
  • Though the move has been well-received, experts and advocates say more needs to be done to further increase insulin access and affordability.
woman injecting insulin on bed

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Eli Lilly will be reducing the prices of some commonly-used insulins by 70%, the pharmaceutical company announced in a news release last week. The company also said it will expand its Insulin Value Program, which caps out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less per month.

The decision comes following increased pressure from patient advocates—along with President Joe Biden—about the high cost of insulin, which can make the drug difficult to obtain for many who need it.

In a statement on behalf of the American College of Physicians, Ryan Mire, MD, president of the ACP, said the organization is “extremely encouraged” by Lilly’s announcement.

“Too often our patients struggle to afford the medications they need to live, including insulin. A medication can only be as effective as a patient’s ability to obtain it,” Dr. Mire said. “Ensuring that those who need it can afford their insulin enough to take their medication as directed will help my patients lead healthier lives.”

The move also puts Lilly in line with the $35 cap on monthly out-of-pocket costs that a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act placed on insulin for Medicare beneficiaries. However, two other major insulin suppliers in the U.S.—Novo Nordisk and Sanofi—have not yet announced any plans to make similar changes.

But while the response to Lilly’s price reduction has been overwhelmingly positive, the change doesn’t necessarily make insulin more available for every person who needs it. Here, diabetes advocates and experts help break down what these changes really entail—and what more needs to happen to improve insulin access and affordability for all.

Which Medications Are Affected by New Prices?

Americans with diabetes typically end up spending a large portion of their income in insulin. About 14% of people in the U.S. who use insulin reach what researchers call “catastrophic spending” on insulin each year—this means spending at least 40% of what’s left of their income on insulin, after paying for housing and food.

People who currently use two of Lilly’s commonly-used insulins will see price reductions for those medications:

  • Insulin lispro injection, the company’s non-branded insulin, will cost $25 per vial, beginning May 1.
  • Humalog (insulin lispro injection) and Humulin (insulin human), will have their list prices cut by 70% beginning in Q4 2023.

Lilly also announced the launch of Rezvoglar (insulin glargine-aglr) injection for $92 per five-pack of KwikPens. The insulin is interchangeable with Lantus (insulin glargine), and the price reflects a 78% discount to that medication. The new medicine will be available April 1.

“This announcement from Eli Lilly to lower [its] list price of this authorized generic to $25 just really demonstrates the momentum and power behind the insulin for all movement,” Shaina Kasper, policy manager at T1 International, told Health.

But the reduced price may trigger other obstacles for people who use insulin and would like to switch to a more affordable option. For example, some pharmacies may not carry non-branded insulin, and appointments with healthcare providers can be unaffordable without insurance. 

“Let’s say, I can switch and I want to switch, I have to go to a doctor to get a prescription,” said Zoë Witt, a diabetes advocate who also does work for Mutual Aid Diabetes, a volunteer-run group dedicated to caring for the diabetic community. “That’s going to cost me $300 because I’m not insured.”

Reducing the prices of just three insulin products may also not be enough to make a huge difference in accessibility, said Kasper, who lives with type 1 diabetes. She noted that different diabetes patients react differently to different types of insulin. “Patients need to have options to find the personalized insulin management protocol that works best for them,” she said.

In addition to lowering prices of some insulins, Lilly also announced an expansion to its Insulin Value Program for both insured and uninsured insulin users. The change will cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 for people with commercial insurance and those who are uninsured who download the Lilly Insulin Value Program savings card, available at

What Needs to Happen to Make Insulin Even More Accessible and Affordable?

Following Lilly’s price-cutting announcement, questions remain about whether it will have an impact on lowering the cost of insulin across the pharmaceutical industry. Jeromie M. Ballreich, PhD, MHS, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is optimistic that even if it is not in the immediate future, other brands may lower insulin prices. 

“Lilly’s decision to lower insulin prices should result in competitive pressure to lower insulin prices elsewhere,” Ballreich told Health. “I expect other pharmaceutical companies to follow suit.”

Patient advocates are also “calling on Novo Nordisk and Sanofi to lower their list prices of insulins [because] list price is really the most important thing,” said Kasper.

Diabetes advocates and organizations, like T1International, are pushing for policy changes that would make getting insulin not only affordable but accessible as well. One way advocates have been pushing for change is through the U.S. Congress.

“Senator [Bernie] Sanders is introducing a bill shortly that’s setting a $20 insulin price cap for all insulin for 1,000 units [or one vial],” Kasper said. 

T1International is also pushing for Kevin’s Law to be expanded across the United States. The law—currently enacted in 17 states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Ohio—allows pharmacists to use their professional judgement to dispense an emergency supply of a chronic maintenance drug, if a doctor cannot be reached for authorization.

Until insulin is more accessible for all, certain patient advocacy groups are also working to fill the gaps to get insulin users the medications they need. Mutual Aid Diabetes in particular is focused on helping people get insulin—as well as other diabetes medications and supplies—and funding it as well.

“We’re the only national organization that actually distributes money directly to diabetics,” Witt said.

Though Lilly’s move to cut some insulin prices is a step in the right direction, healthcare providers and patient advocates maintain that the overall aim is to make insulin affordable and accessible for all.

“Our patients who rely on insulin have waited long enough,” Robert Lash, MD, chief medical officer of the Endocrine Society, said in a press release. “The time to act is now.”

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  1. Eli Lilly. Lilly cuts insulin prices by 70% and caps patient insulin out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month.

  2. Bakkila BF, Basu S, Lipska KJ. Catastrophic spending on insulin in the United States, 2017-18Health Aff. 2022;41(7):1053-1060. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01788

  3. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator for Vermont. Chairman Sanders applauds public pressure for forcing Eli Lilly to reduce cost of insulin by 70%, sends letters to remaining companies to follow suit.

  4. T1International. Kevin's Law.

  5. Endocrine Society. Endocrine Society applauds Eli Lilly’s efforts to lower insulin costs.

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