California will cut patients’ cost for insulin by 90% to $30, regardless of their insurance plan, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday.
The state has a contract with non-profit generic-drug company Civica to manufacture insulin, a hormone used for treating diabetes.
When the new, cheaper drug will become available is not clear: Civica and the state Health and Human Services Agency are working to identify a manufacturing facility in California, according to the governor’s announcement.
Patients who pay cash for insulin will save $2,000 and $4,000 a year, Newsom’s office said, citing “egregious cost-shifting that happens in traditional pharmaceutical price games.”
More than three million Californians have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetics have medicals costs about 2.3 times higher than people without the disease, the group said.
A 10-milliliter vial of insulin usually costs $300, according to the announcement. A box of five pre-filled 3-milliliter insulin pens will cost no more than $55, compared to the typical $500-plus, the governor’s office said.
“People should not be forced to go into debt to get life saving prescriptions,” Newsom said. “Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year.”
No new prescriptions will be required, and California residents will be able to ask for the generic insulin at participating brick-and-mortar and online pharmacies.
The state plans to make available insulins biologically similar to the glargine, aspart and lispro versions of the drug. The glargine-type drug is expected to be interchangeable with Lantus-brand insulin, the aspart-type drug interchangeable with Humalog, and the lispro-type interchangeable with Novolog.
Meanwhile, drug maker Eli Lilly said earlier this month it had slashed the cost of its most commonly used insulin by 70% and capped out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 for people with private health insurance using participating pharmacies.
The firm said it would also expand its “Insulin Value Program” that caps out-of-pocket costs at $35 or less per month for uninsured people. Eli Lilly said it would cut the list price of its non-branded lispro insulin to $25 per vial from $82 starting May 1, and lower the list price of Humulin and its most commonly prescribed insulin, Humalog, in the fourth quarter of 2023. A new drug interchangeable with Lantus will be launched April 1, costing $92 for a five-pack of pens, a 78% cost reduction, the company said.
Newsom also announced, amid an opioid crisis killing thousands of Californians per year that has been exacerbated by the powerful and pervasive synthetic fentanyl, that California plans to manufacture its own Naloxone, a drug for reversing opioid overdoses.