17 Mar 2022
Posted in Pharma
Civica’s insulin initiative will provide strong competition to lower the cost of insulins, says GlobalData
To help combat the nationwide insulin affordability crisis, Civica, a nonprofit generic pharmaceutical company, has launched its Insulin Initiative with the JDRF. The initiative aims to drive affordability and accessibility for all Americans, regardless of insurance status. GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, found that by entirely changing the production and pricing model, Civica will be able to provide more affordable insulin options to those who are uninsured or underinsured, regardless of whether substantial pricing legislation is able to be passed.
Civica will manufacture one long-acting insulin biosimilar to Sanofi’s Lantus (insulin glargine), and two rapid-acting insulins, biosimilars of Novo Nordisk’s Novolog (insulin aspart) and Eli Lilly’s Humalog (insulin lispro). Civica anticipates a price of no more than $30 per vial and $55 per box of five pen cartridges—a significant discount to prices charged to individuals today. Key opinion leaders interviewed by GlobalData hope that biosimilars will help bring down the out-of-pocket cost for patients.
To put this discount into context, according to GlobalData’s pricing database, a box of five pen cartridges of Humalog costs $612.51 at its current wholesale price, and the cost of currently marketed lispro biosimilars, also sold by Eli Lilly, is $190.94 for a set of five pens. The high cost of insulin poses a major barrier to glycemic control for type 1 diabetes patients, but we expect that the rise of biosimilar insulins will provide strong competition to ultimately lower the cost to the price that Civica has set.
Samisha Khangaonkar, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Due to payer-pharma contracts, a therapeutic would have to be significantly cheaper for a new contract to be made, or to encourage patients to pay directly out of pocket. Civica’s current pricing model may achieve that. By making insulin more affordable, patients will be more likely to adhere to the treatment regimen prescribed by their healthcare providers, as opposed to rationing their insulin due to the cost.”
This collaboration announcement is the latest in a series of public steps being taken to drive down the cost of insulin. There has been some progress in recent years—in select states and through certain commercial insurance providers—to lower or cap the cost of insulin. Recently, New York Senator and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced legislation to cap the cost of insulin to $35 for most patients with diabetes. Schumer plans to bring the bipartisan legislation to a floor vote in March. Insulin pricing also had its moment to shine at the State of the Union on March 1, where President Biden thew his support behind the insulin cap and pushed to let Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.
Unfortunately, these movements alone are not enough. PhRMA, a lobbying organization for the industry, opposes Biden’s stance on Medicare, and responded immediately to his address, claiming that allowing the government to set the price of medicines will lead to less access to medicines and less future innovation.
Sanofi, in its recently published annual report on how it prices drugs, pointed to rebates and fees that it pays to pharmacy business managers, which raise the cost of drugs. The company said that while it has dropped the net price of its top insulin, Lantus, by 62% since 2012, the out-of-pocket cost to patients has risen 60%.
Khangaonkar adds: “Price is the biggest barrier of insulin choice, as insulin brand preference is primarily determined not by a doctor, but through payer contracts with pharma companies. There is a general hesitancy from physicians to prescribe insulins from unfamiliar manufacturers. But with rising biosimilar insulin sales in the US, and the price point Civica has set, this will likely be a significant step towards easing the burden of insulin treatment.”