Sanofi expands insulin savings programme in US, providing some patients access for $99 per month

Sanofi announced Wednesday that under an expanded programme in the US, certain patients with diabetes will be able to access up to 10 boxes of insulin pens and/or 10-mL vials of insulin per month for $99. Michelle Carnahan, head of North America primary care at Sanofi, said that "by giving those who require both long-acting and/or mealtime insulins or use more than one box of pens or one vial per month access to their insulins for one flat price, we aim to help limit the burden on the individuals who have high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter." 

The programme, which starts in June, builds on Sanofi's Insulins Valyou Savings scheme that launched last year and enabled those who pay cash to pay the set prices of $99 for one 10-mL vial or $149 for a box of pens. According to the company, the Valyou initiative has provided about $10 million in patient savings in the US since its debut in April 2018.

Sanofi noted that people exposed to high out-of-pocket prices at the pharmacy counter can participate in the programme regardless of income level, but under current government regulations, it cannot offer this type of programme to patients insured under Medicare, Medicaid or similar federal or state plans. The latest move comes after the company unveiled price hikes earlier this year in the range of 4.4 percent to 5.2 percent for Apidra (insulin glulisine), Lantus (insulin glargine) and Toujeo SoloSTAR (insulin glargine).

Sanofi's announcement Wednesday comes the same day as the company, as well as executives from Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, will testify at a hearing held by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce into the rising cost of insulin in the US. Additionally, Senators Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley have launched an investigation into insulin drug pricing targeting the three companies. In February, a US district court judge ruled that Sanofi, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk must face a class-action lawsuit accusing the companies of price gouging in the insulin market. 

Meanwhile, Sanofi was one of seven companies questioned by the Senate Finance Committee recently over drug pricing. US lawmakers have also introduced several pieces of legislation seeking to reduce prescription drug prices. 

Last month, Eli Lilly said it would launch an authorised generic version of Humalog (insulin lispro) in the US at a 50-percent lower list price than the original branded product as part of efforts to address the issue of patients' high out-of-pocket costs. More recently, health insurer Cigna and its pharmacy benefit manager arm Express Scripts launched a programme in the US designed to ensure that eligible patients with diabetes in participating plans pay no more than $25 for a 30-day supply of insulin. 

For related analysis, read ViewPoints: Eli Lilly throws down the gauntlet to PBMs with Humalog generic.

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