California will cut the cost of insulin for patients by 90% to $30, regardless of insurance plan, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Saturday.
The state has a contract with nonprofit generic drug company Civica to manufacture insulin, a hormone used to treat diabetes.
When the cheaper new drug will be available is unclear: Civica and the state Health and Human Services Agency are working to identify a factory in California, according to the governor’s announcement.
Patients who pay cash for insulin will save between $2,000 and $4,000 a year, Newsom’s office said, citing “an egregious cost shift that plays out in traditional pharmaceutical pricing games.”
More than three million Californians have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetics have medical costs about 2.3 times higher than people without the condition, the group said.
A 10 milliliter bottle of insulin usually costs $300, according to the ad. A box of five pre-filled 3-milliliter insulin pens will cost no more than $55, compared with a typical $500, the governor’s office said.
“People should not be forced to go into debt to get life-saving prescriptions,” Newsom said. “Californians will have access to some of the cheapest insulin available, helping them save thousands each year.”
No new prescriptions will be required, and California residents will be able to order generic insulin from participating brick-and-mortar and online pharmacies.
The state intends to make insulins biologically similar to the glargine, aspart and lispro versions of the drug available. The glargine-type drug is expected to be interchangeable with Lantus-branded insulin, the aspart-type drug with Humalog, and the lispro-type drug with Novolog.
Meanwhile, drugmaker Eli Lilly said earlier this month that it cut the cost of its most commonly used insulin by 70% and capped direct insulin costs at $35 for people with private health insurance using participating pharmacies.
The company said it would also expand its “Insulin Value Program,” which caps out-of-pocket costs to $35 or less a month for people without insurance. Eli Lilly said it would reduce the list price of its unbranded insulin lispro to $25 per vial from $82 effective May 1, and would reduce the list price of Humulin and its most commonly prescribed insulin, Humalog, in the fourth quarter of 2023. A new drug interchangeable with Lantus will be launched on April 1, priced at $92 for a pack of five pens, a 78% cost reduction, the company said.
Newsom also announced, amid an opioid crisis that kills thousands of Californians a year and which has been exacerbated by the powerful and widespread synthetic fentanyl, that California plans to manufacture its own Naloxone, a drug to reverse opioid overdoses.
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