The step comes after months of criticism about high insulin prices.
CVS Health and Novo Nordisk have created a program to make older, human insulins available at $25 for a 10 ml vial, which could cut $100 off the cost for patients who pay cash. CVS and Novo Nordisk jointly announced the effort Thursday.
The program is part of a broader effort by CVS Health to make certain critical medications with high out-of-pocket costs available to patients directly through CVS Caremark, its health benefits manager. CVS Health has also worked on a generic version of an epinephrine injector for patients with severe allergies.
“We developed the Reduced Rx prescription savings program with Novo Nordisk because we both recognized a need and an opportunity to make critical medications more affordable for patients,” said Jonathan Roberts, executive vice president and chief operating officer, CVS Health, in a statement.
The effort comes after months of criticism that the “Big Three” insulin makers—Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly—had priced newer analogue insulins beyond the reach of some patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Some T1D patients have voiced complaints that they rationed their supplies, strictly monitored food intake, or suffered episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis. A class action suit was filed against the 3 companies in January.
Insulin prices have gone up as manufacturers have developed new advanced products with a longer window, so that if patients are delayed injecting the product, they will not suffer health effects. However, those advances have come at a cost, and international health groups have asked why older insulins could not be made available for patients with limited means. Novo Nordisk is using its Novolin R®, Novolin N® and Novolin 70/30® human insulins for the CVS program.
“This program underscores how important collaboration is to addressing the affordability challenges patients face in certain health plans or who remain uninsured. We all have a role to play and that’s why we welcomed the chance to work with CVS Health on this program,” said Doug Langa, senior vice president and head of North America Operations, Novo Nordisk. “We’re committed to developing sustainable solutions with customers and will continue to pursue opportunities to ensure that patients have access to insulin that is affordable.”