Sanofi to Start Offering Discounts on Two Insulin Products

Allison Inserro

Sanofi, 1 of 3 drug manufacturers embroiled in a lawsuit involving insulin prices, said Thursday it is offering a discount program for some patient with diabetes who are uninsured or who have high-deductible insurance plans.

Sanofi said the total out-of-pocket cost for insulin glargine (marketed under the name Lantus) or insulin lispro injection (sold under the name Admelog) will be $99 for a 10 mL vial or $149 for a box of 5 three mL pens. The company said in a statement the program is aimed at “certain uninsured patients who don't qualify for traditional patient assistance programs, in addition to some commercially insured patients with a high deductible that has not been reached on their plan.”

A company spokesman said in a later email the program is open to all “non-federally insured patients, regardless of insurance status or plan design.” 

The discount to patients comes as Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk are parties in a racketeering lawsuit where they recently acknowledged that consumers’ sticker shock over insulin prices are real. It’s just not the manufacturers’ fault, they argue, and it’s definitely not a crime. “Defendants acknowledge that pharmaceutical pricing is an important issue, especially given how recent trends in the design of insurance benefits have affected certain patients’ out of pocket costs,” stated the joint motion filed on March 9, 2018, by attorneys for the 3 companies. 

The cost of insulin has drawn attention from the World Health Organization, which made the plight of patients the focus of World Health Day in 2 years ago. Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, FACP, chief medical officer for Joslin Diabetes Center, wrote about the difficult dynamics of insulin pricing in an issue of Evidence-Based Diabetes Management, for which he is the editor-in-chief.

Last month, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, criticized a reimbursement system that relies on rebates passed between pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and said prices are not transparent. Speaking at a meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans, Gottlieb said, “we continue to see a backlash against these Kabuki drug-pricing constructs—constructs that obscure profit taking across the supply chain that drives up costs; that expose consumers to high out-of-pocket spending; and that actively discourage competition.”
Amid the uproar over rising drug prices, some insurers, such as UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, are passing drug rebates back to consumers. 
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