Sanofi to cut US price of its most-prescribed insulin by 78%

French drug maker will also extend $35 out-of-pocket pricing program to patients with commercial insurance

Sanofi logo at the companys headquarters during the annual results news conference in Paris, France. — Reuters/File
Sanofi logo at the company's headquarters during the annual results news conference in Paris, France. — Reuters/File

Sanofi said on Thursday it will cut US list prices for its most-prescribed insulin product, Lantus, by 78% starting next year after similar moves by rivals Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly and Co.

The French drug maker will also extend its $35 out-of-pocket pricing program to all patients with commercial insurance using Lantus.

The move comes as US President Joe Biden has pushed to extend to most Americans the $35 cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs made available to Medicare recipients by the Inflation Reduction Act.

In addition to Lantus, Sanofi said it will cut by 70% the list price for its fast-acting insulin, Apidra.

Sanofi said it already offered a lower-priced version of Lantus but that it had not been taken up widely by insurance programs.

The branded list price of Lantus is $438.07 for the pre-filled pens and $292.07 for a 10 ml vial. Those would come down to $96 and $64, respectively.

The company said it has a 40% share of the US long-acting insulin market and a 4% share of the rapid-acting market.

About 8.4 million of the 37 million people with diabetes in the US use insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Rival Novo Nordisk on Tuesday said it would cut US list prices for several insulin products by up to 75% next year. That followed Lilly's March 2 decision to cut list prices by 70% for Humalog and Humulin, its most commonly prescribed insulin products.

Most Americans with insurance do not regularly pay the list price for insulin, but they may have an insurance co-pay based on the drug's list price or pay full price up to a certain amount of money spent.

Uninsured people often have to pay the full list price, forcing many patients to ration or skip doses. The companies also offer savings programs outside of insurance.

The price cuts will allow Sanofi, Novo and Lilly, which combined control about 90% of the US insulin market, to avoid paying substantial rebates to the US government Medicaid program in 2024.

Under US law, drug companies are required to rebate the Medicaid program if annual price increases on medicines outpace inflation. The law capped the maximum payments at the price of the drug, but that cap will be removed in January 2024.

"After the price drop, Sanofi will actually make money off Lantus in Medicaid, when at current prices, it would have had to pay Medicaid," said Dr Inmaculada Hernandez, a drug pricing expert and associate professor at the University of California at San Diego.