French drugmaker Sanofi announced on April 10 a plan to lower its insulin prices to $99 per month for some U.S. patients, beginning in June. The announcement came amid a series of congressional hearings about drug costs and was met with questions about why this move and other recent cost-cutting measures took so long.
Eli Lilly, another top insulin manufacturer, announced March 4 it would begin selling a half-priced version of its Humalog product, while Cigna and Express Scripts said last week that diabetics enrolled in certain drug benefits plans would see their out-of-pocket costs for insulin capped at $25 per month.
“It shouldn’t take months of bad press, persistent public outcry and increasing congressional scrutiny to get a company to charge a fair price,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is leading the drug pricing hearings in the Senate, according to Bloomberg. “That’s not how a functioning marketplace works.”
Sanofi’s plan is an expansion of its “Valyou” discount program. Under the new setup, patients would pay $99 for a monthly supply of the company’s Lantus, Toujeo and Admelog insulins. But only patients who pay cash or have private insurance are eligible, as current regulations don’t allow patients enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid to participate in drugmaker-funded discount programs.
Grassley questioned this restriction as well, Bloomberg reported.
“If Sanofi can reduce the price to patients for insulin while still making a profit, I can’t imagine a legitimate reason taxpayers shouldn’t be charged the same price,” he said.
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