Insulins: Prices, Rebates, and Other Factors Influencing Costs

Along with setting high prices for insulin products, drug manufacturers’ pricing strategies, including the use of multi-drug combination products to extend the life of older brand insulins, are a significant barrier to more competition in the insulin market. The key to reducing drug costs is by increasing competition among brands and generics, including for insulin products.

A PCMA analysis outlines several key points on insulin prices, including:

•Insulin prices have increased more than 10-fold since 1985. Prices have escalated more dramatically during the past 10 years.
•Prices for Humulin/Novolin have increased from approximately $25 per prescription in 1985 to nearly $300 in 2016.
•Prices for long-acting insulins have increased from about $100 per prescription in 2007 to nearly $400 in 2016.
•During the past 20 years, new insulin competitors have entered the market, but always at higher prices than the existing market. The only exception was Basaglar, introduced in December 2016. It is the first follow-on long-acting insulin.
•During the past 10 years, gross sales for insulins have increased significantly due entirely to price increases, while overall utilization/prescription volume has remained flat.