Under increasing pressure from public demand, Eli Lilly has suddenly become more transparent with the once-confidential pricing structure for one of its biggest drugs. On Monday, the pharmaceutical giant disclosed, for the very first time, how much it charges wholesalers for its popular insulin injection drug, Humalog.
At first glance this might seem somewhat innocuous but getting a look at the wholesale price for this very important medical intervention allows consumers—patients who pay for the drug—to see the disparity between what the manufacturer charges and what patients and insurance companies eventually have to pay. Indeed, this move brings great attention to the difference in price after you look at insurance company rebates and other discounts.
That said, the “net price” for the Eli Lilly insulin product actually fell more than 8 percent in 2018. Of course, that drop is down to $135 per patient per month from the 2014 price of $147 per patient per month. This is the total price paid after you factor in discounts and rebates. However, the average list price for insulin, before discounts, increased nearly 52 percent, to $594 per patient per month.
In a statement, the company said, “We believe that the additional information disclosed…will provide greater transparency into the significant rebates and discounts we provide to payers and other supply chain entities for this important medicine.”
The reveal comes at a crucial time in the medical industry as high drug costs is one of the few things that Congress, lawmakers, and consumers all seem to agree upon. Aside from lawmakers demanding a change, the president has also proclaimed that lowering drug prices is one of the key issues of his administration. Of course, many promises have been made on many fronts, so time will tell if this legislation refinement will actually be a cornerstone legacy for this administration.
On the other side, of course, drugmakers contend that prices advertised are just that: what is advertised; and they do not reflect what consumers will eventually pay. Their claims, obviously, do not take into account the fact that many people who need expensive drugs do not have the insurance to cover them—and even then, insurance often makes drugs less expensive, but that doesn’t mean they suddenly become affordable.