NEW YORK, April 10 — Sanofi SA said today it will cut the cost of its insulin products to US$99 (RM406) per month for uninsured patients and others who pay cash for it in the United States, as the French drugmaker contends with intense criticism over the high price of the life-sustaining diabetes medication.
Sanofi announced the plan hours before one of its executives was set to testify before a congressional committee on the rising prices of insulin. Executives from the other leading insulin producers — Eli Lilly & Co and Novo Nordisk A/S — will also testify.
The cost of insulin for treating type 1 diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled over a five-year period, leading some patients to put their own health at risk by rationing the medication.
Under its plan, Sanofi said people with diabetes in the United States can buy up to 10 boxes of insulin pens or vials with a valid prescription for US$99 per month, beginning in June.
The price of other manufacturers’ leading insulin products is US$178 to US$300 per vial and US$235 to US$563 per pack of pens, according to Sanofi.
The move is an expansion of Sanofi’s “Insulin Valyou Savings Programme” launched last year and represents a significant savings for patients already enrolled who had been paying US$99 for each vial of insulin and US$149 for each pack of insulin pens.
“When you hear us say in our testimony in the hearing tomorrow that it is heartbreaking and no one should have to go without insulin, we mean it,” Michelle Carnahan, Head of North America primary care at Sanofi, said in an interview yesterday.
Sanofi is not the first company to cut insulin prices in response to intensifying criticism from patients and politicians. Last month, Eli Lilly announced plans to sell a half price, authorised generic version of its popular Humalog insulin injection. The list price for Lilly’s authorised generic, to be sold only in the United States, will be US$137.35 per vial.
Patients with high out-of-pocket insulin costs can participate in the Sanofi programme regardless of their income level, Sanofi said. Under current regulations, it cannot offer the plan to patients insured under the government’s Medicare or Medicaid programmes or similar federal and state health programmes.
In terms of profitability, Sanofi said it believes the pricing programme is sustainable for the long term. The company’s diabetes business brought in about €2.2 billion in US sales last year.
Since Sanofi launched its “Insulins Valyou Savings Programme” last April around 12,000 patients have utilised the programme, saving about US$10 million, the company said. — Reuters