Insulin has been around for 100 years, so why is it still so expensive?

The high cost of insulin in the US, where some people with diabetes pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a month’s supply of insulin, has long been a symbol of the imperfection of our healthcare system. Too many people with diabetes have been forced to limit their insulin intake, taking dangerously low doses to prolong the duration of the drug, resulting in poor health and, in some cases, impoverishment.

Although there have been gradual changes recently, several states have placed caps on the cost of insulin, the Affordable Insulin Now Act includes a proposed nationwide cap, and some manufacturers and payers have created their own rebate programs, coupons, or caps. But this is not enough for the uninsured and the underinsured.

The complexities of the US insulin market are confusing. Manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, wholesalers, retailers, payers, and employers have created a convoluted, opaque, discount-based marketplace rat’s nest that ties patients to bills. It’s confusing. It is expensive. And this is wrong. Over the past 20 years, the average list price of insulin has increased by 11% each year, with annual per capita insulin costs approaching US$6,000. While this structure is not unique to the insulin market, it forces too many diabetic patients whose lives depend on insulin to choose between paying for medicines, household bills, or food.

It’s time to try something different. Something new.

Civica Rx, a non-profit organization whose mission is to make essential quality medicines available to everyone, recently announced a partnership with GeneSys Biologics to develop and commercialize three biosimilar versions of insulin in the US – glargine, lispro and aspart.

Civica will significantly reduce the market price of insulin by offering its insulin at the lowest sustainable price. Civica will not only publish its wholesale prices, but also plans to set the suggested consumer price at no more than $30 per bottle and no more than $55 for a box of five pen cartridges, a significant discount from prices charged today to the uninsured. persons.

Civica insulin is expected to be on the market as early as 2024 and will be available to US pharmacies and other distributors at the same wholesale price and under identical commercial terms, regardless of the size or volume of wholesale or retail pharmacy purchases.

Perhaps most importantly, Civica will not participate in any discount schemes. Both fast-acting and basal insulins are among the most beneficial drugs in America. Each year, diabetic patients pay billions of dollars more for insulin than they should. These systemic overpayments are collected by PBM at retail pharmacies and “paid” at the end of the line to wholesalers, payers and employers, with each segment of the supply chain receiving a share. These “middlemen” in the current insulin market paved the way between drug manufacturers and patients, and then, having consolidated their market power, became “highway robbers”, exacting ever-increasing losses from desperate patients and their families.

Civica will put an end to this form of highway robbery.

We are committed to democratizing insulin by making this essential medicine available to all Americans. The Civica Foundation has raised more than two-thirds of the $125 million planned for the development of Civica insulin, and these fundraising efforts will continue as we engage the wider diabetic community and charities.

For many of us involved in creating a new insulin market, this is a very personal matter. We believe that organizational models like Civica can lead to new markets by correcting old, seemingly insurmountable market failures. The profit sought is not a direct financial return for a small group of shareholders. Our goal is to provide social returns by increasing accessibility and alleviating human suffering, while demonstrating that market solutions exist that can help mitigate the effects of capitalism unrestrained by right and wrong—models that always prioritize the needs of the patient. first and always.

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