Manufacturers Launch Programs to Allow Greater Access to Insulin in Response to COVID-19

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In response to the financial crisis driven by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, drug manufacturers are aiming to increase access to insulin products.

In response to the financial crisis driven by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, drug manufacturers Eli Lilly and Sanofi launched programs to increase access to insulin products.

Eli Lilly announced the Lilly Insulin Value Program, which guarantees a $35 maximum co-pay for most of their insulin products.1

Lilly manufactures several widely-used insulin products, including insulin lispro injection (Humalog), glucagon nasal powder (Baqsimi), and insulin human injection (Humulin).1

“It’s critical that people with diabetes can reliably access insulin at low, consistent out-of-pocket cost,” said Aaron Kowalski, PhD, and Thom Scher, chief executive officers of the JDRF-Beyond Type 1 Alliance, in a statement. “Enabling a $35 per month insulin co-pay regardless of employment status will help many Americans in this difficult time.”1

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and the diseases costs the United States over $327 billion per year according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Although achieving glycemic control is important to minimizing the costs, research from the ADA has found that the prices of rapid-acting insulin pens, rapid-acting insulin vials, long- and short-acting insulin vials all increased between 15% and 17% from 2012 to 2016.2 Increasing unemployment rates could lead to even more financial strain on patients with diabetes.

The Lilly Insulin Value Program offers patients a co-pay card, which they can use for insulin prescriptions. Patients should call the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center for more information and to enroll in the program, according to a press release from the company. Patients enrolled in government insurance such as Medicaid and Medicare are not eligible.1

The press release also assured consumers that the company has experienced no shortages of insulin during the COVID-19 crisis.1

“Too many people in the US have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis, and we want to make sure no one goes without their Lilly insulin,” said Mike Mason, president of Lilly Diabetes, in a statement.1

According to a Sanofi press release, every person with commercial health insurance, regardless of income level, is eligible for Sanofi’s co-pay assistance program, in which a majority of participating patients pay either $10 or $0 per month for diabetes products.3

The program exists for eligible patients who are prescribed the following products:

  • Lixisenatide injection (Adlyxin, Sanofi)
  • Insulin glulisine injection (Apidra, Sanofi) 100 Units/ml
  • Insulin glargine injection (Lantus, Sanofi) 100 Units/ml
  • Insulin glargine injection (Toujeo, Sanofi) 300 Units/ml
  • Insulin glargine and lixsenatide injection (Soliqua) 100 Units/ml and 33 mcg/ml

The respective co-pay card for each product is available immediately after signing up.

Sanofi has also created the Insulins Valyou Savings Program, in which all uninsured patients, regardless of income level, can purchase 1 or multiple Sanofi insulins for a fixed price of $99 a month, for up to 10 boxes of pens and or 10 mL vials. The intent of this program is to provide relief for those who currently pay the highest prices for their insulin due to lack of insurance coverage and do not qualify for other assistance programs.

Like the co-pay assistance program, this card is available immediately after spending a few minutes signing up.

“Every patient has unique circumstances. We urge all Sanofi patients facing financial hardship, especially those who may have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to call us. Sanofi has live support specialists at 855-984-6302 to answer each patient’s questions and navigate their individual situations to find the best resources and programs to help lower their out-of-pocket costs,” the press release said.

Sanofi also wrote that they do not anticipate shortages for patient resulting from the COVID-19 situation, explaining that they will work on maintaining supply of their medications through close collaboration with their supplies throughout the world.

Due to a higher demand for certain medications at local retail pharmacies, the press release notes that Sanofi consumers may experiences a temporary delay in filling their prescriptions.

“If your local pharmacy is temporarily out of your Sanofi medicine, your pharmacy can order additional medicine from their wholesaler, and can generally receive medications within 24 business hours. Patients should consult with their local pharmacies for further details as Sanofi does not have any products on manufacturer backorder due to COVID-19,” the press release stated.

REFERENCES

  • New $35 Co-Pay Now Available Through Lilly Insulin Value Program in Response to COVID-19 Crisis in US [news release]. Eli Lilly; April 7, 2020. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/new-35-co-pay-now-available-through-lilly-insulin-value-program. Accessed April 8, 2020.
  • Antrim A. New FDA Definition of ‘Biologics’ Could Increase Access to Affordable Insulin. Pharmacy Times, March 4, 2020. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/new-fda-definition-of-biologics-could-increase-access-to-affordable-insulin. Accessed April 8, 2020.
  • Sanofi Savings Programs for People Living with Diabetes [news release]. Sanofi website. Published April 3, 2020. Email. Accessed April 8, 2020.