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'Lowering cost is promising': Mother is hopeful as Eli Lilly cuts insulin prices

Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 01, 2023

WXMI — Insulin may not cost a lot to manufacture, but it can cost a pretty penny for people who need it. Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced on Wednesday that they’re cutting the cost for some insulin products.

This decision comes after a high pressure campaign from Michigan. Governor Whitmer proposed $150 Million in her new budget for Michigan to start manufacturing its own insulin due to skyrocketing prices.

According to the CDC, more than 37 million adults in the U.S. have diabetes, and 96 million have prediabetes. Eli Lilly’s decision means more people can afford the necessary medication.

One former Michigan family is heartened by the decision. With three children diagnosed with type one diabetes, Rachael Lockwood said she and her family had to move from Montcalm County to Ohio because of insulin's high cost.

She said the family's insurance stopped covering her daughters' prescribed insulin in 2018.

“We were basically rationing one prescription for two children. And then in 2019, a third child was diagnosed with type one diabetes,” Rachael said, reflecting on her not-so-easy journey with the disease.

READ: 'Nobody was happy about it:' Michigan family moves to Ohio to lower insulin costs

With 37 million people living the diabetes, rationing is not uncommon, considering the cost of the drug. Going forward, Eli Lilly plans to cap out-of-pocket insulin at $35 for people with private insurance and use participating pharmacies.

“I think seeing that Eli Lilly is interested in, you know, capping the cost or lowering cost is promising and encouraging,” Lockwood told FOX 17.

Although Rachael and her family are having a better time in Ohio with good health insurance and don’t have to pay anything for insulin, this change could be beneficial for their daughter in college.

“To know that she could still purchase insulin for $35 is kind of a relief as a mom," Rachael says. "To know that, like, she'll be able to do this, and not have to sacrifice other things in order to afford her medications."

For years, many have had to make sacrifices when it comes to insulin, just like the Lockwoods.

Priyanka Bikkina, a physician at Bronson’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, said some of her patients will use just enough insulin to keep them out of the hospital, but not enough to make sure their diabetes is controlled.

“I have had some patients even say that, you know, they are taking less than what we recommend in terms of how many units of insulin because they want to save up and make it last longer,” Bikkina said.

While companies have tried to do a lot with patient assistant programs, Bikkina feels there is still a huge need for lower costs.

"Insulin is a life-saving medication," she says, explaining that people with diabetes could see severe complications if they don't have insulin.

Come May 1, Eli Lilly’s non-branded insulin will cost $25 a vial compared to $82.4 and Humalog, which is currently over $200, will decrease to around $66.

Eli Lilly says they know they aren’t the only company people rely on, but they hope others join their efforts in making insulin more affordable.

Lockwood feels this change is a long time coming, but she also hopes there are no ulterior motives.

"I think for so long, we have felt like it has been profit over people, or profit over patients. And so it is hard for me to trust that this is a long term change, and not just a change to get people and maybe even lawmakers off their back," she says.

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