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How Much Does Insulin Cost To Make

Robin Feldman Professor Of Law Uc Hastings College Of Law San Francisco

Why Does Insulin Cost What It Does?

One would have to see how these orders were implemented to know how powerful and effective they will be.

We are still seeing many struggle in clinical practice with affordability, says Redmond. So it is unclear to most healthcare providers who gets these insulin cap benefits. Even myself as an expert would really love any more guidance on this. There are eligibility requirements that many patients still dont meet.

As with any legal order, the devil’s in the detail, Robin Feldman, Arthur J. Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Hastings College of Law San Francisco, tells Verywell. One would have to see how these orders were implemented to know how powerful and effective they will be. We are, however, going to need some systemic changes to try to address the problems that are driving drug prices higher in general, and insulin prices higher specifically.

Generics And Biosimilars Are Driving Down The Overall Price Of Insulins

Since 2019, the overall retail price of insulins has declined by about 5%. Most of this decline can be seen as a result of recent approvals of generics and biosimilars.

In 2019, Eli Lilly released the first generic insulin, insulin lispro, the counterpart to the popular rapid-acting insulin Humalog. Since then, the FDA has approved generic versions of Humalog 75/25 , , , and most recently, Lantus .

Retail prices for generic insulin lispro and insulin aspart are currently about half that of Humalog and Novolog, respectively. The same goes for the generic mixed insulins, insulin lispro 75/25 and insulin aspart 70/30, compared to Humalog 75/25 and Novolog 70/30, respectively.

Generics have been instrumental in bringing down costs for some patients. Instead of paying a retail price of over $700 for a package of 5 Humalog KwikPens, for example, patients can now pay closer to $300 for a package of 5 generic insulin lispro KwikPens. However, weve seen that limited insurance coverage can prevent some patients from accessing these savings.

Like generics, follow-on products have also helped to bring down insulin prices overall. Generics contain the exact replicas of the active ingredients in a brand-name medication. But biologic drugs like insulin are nearly impossible to recreate. So sometimes, manufacturers make close copies of them instead, known as follow-ons or biosimilars. Biosimilars tend to be more expensive than generics but less expensive than brands.

How To Save On Insulin Prices

Contact your insurance company and find out how your policy pays for insulin. Do they pay more for certain types of insulin? Do they exclude certain types? If their payments or exclusions dont work with what you are taking, talk to your healthcare provider about options. Some insurance companies will accept what is called a prior authorization, which means your doctor writes a letter explaining why you need a specific type of insulin. Find out what your deductible is and how you will need to pay out of pocket. Ask if they have any special programs for insulin, such as the one offered by Cigna.

If paying cash, take advantage of programs offered by pharmaceutical companies, such as the one provided by Sanofi. Add in additional costs of supplies to see what you will need to pay each month.

Look into patient assistance programs offered by most major pharmaceutical companies, like Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, and some non-profit assistance programs, such as Rx Hope, that provide prescriptions for free or low cost to low-income and uninsured.

Take advantage of a prescription savings card from Singlecare. Over 35,000 pharmacies accept SingleCare coupons. You can enter your zip code online or on our mobile app to find the pharmacy with the lowest price for your insulin. Then, bring in your prescription and your SingleCare card to receive the discount. Joining SingleCare is free.

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What Is The Cost Of Insulin In The Us

The average cost of insulin has increased substantially since 2014.

According to GoodRx Health, the “average price per insulin unit rose 54%, from $0.22 to $0.34. Then, from January 2020 to October 2021, it dropped 5% from about $0.33 to $0.31.”

Traditional insulin costs have gone down, prices of modern rapid and long-acting insulins continue to go up, GoodRx Health reports.

New dispensers, like inhalable insulin by companies like Afrezza, cost nearly 20 times as much as other insulins.

Insulin pricing has become such a pressing issue that even President Biden, in his State of the Union address, focused on the impact inflation on prescription drug prices.

Insulin Prices: Pumps Pens Syringes And More

The Cost of Insulin

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The price of insulin can be overwhelming, especially if you need it to stay healthy. Even with insurance, you could be paying hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs each month.

Insulin is absolutely necessary for people with type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes often need it as well. Roughly 7.4 million Americans with diabetes take insulin.

If you need to take insulin for diabetes, its essential to learn how to get the cost down to something you can afford, while simultaneously understanding how to manage your condition.

There are several types of devices available to deliver insulin, and each come with their own set of pros and cons.

The best insulin device for you depends on many factors, including how much your blood sugar fluctuates each day and your lifestyle.

Nowadays, cost is becoming an increasingly important factor to consider when deciding on a device.

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Ways To Save On Insulin

Its difficult to predict where drug prices will be in the future, but if you take insulin, we hope our analysis gives you some ideas for how to talk to your provider about affordable options. Here are more ways you can save:

1) Use a manufacturer savings card or patient assistance program. Major insulin manufacturers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, and MannKind offer copay cards and patient assistance programs for patients with and without insurance coverage. In many cases, these programs can reduce out-of-pocket costs to as little as $0 per month. For more information, just search for your drug on, and click on Savings Tips for details.

2) Shop around. GoodRx offers discounts on insulin drugs, which can save you as much as 50% off the full retail price. At, you can also compare insulin prices at different pharmacies in your area and find information about discount programs at specific pharmacies.

3) Appeal your coverage. If you have insurance and your plan doesnt cover the insulin you need, ask your doctor about submitting an appeal. Your insurance company may require a prior authorization or step therapy before you can fill your prescription, but its worth trying if you want to get your insulin covered.

Co-contributors:Diane Li, Hannah McQueen, Swetha Pola


A note about insulin use

Executive Orders On Drug Prices

After the first presidential debate, President Donald Trump claimed of insulin, Im getting it for so cheap its like water. The statement prompted questions about insulin prices following a spate of executive orders that Trump signed over the summer. These orders included language aimed at lowering insulin and other drug prices for Americans.

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Regulation Of Drug Prices


One way that Canada maintains the cost of insulin is through something called the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board . PMPRB was established in 1987 and amended in 2019 . In a nutshell, the PMPRB ensures that patented drug prices are not excessive . To do so, the board considers a products therapeutic benefits relative to existing comparable drugs, consumer price index changes, and the price of the drug in a group of reference countries . The board also reports trends in pharmaceutical sales and pricing for all medicines . The 2019 PMPRB amendments include analyzing new factors such as cost-effectiveness, changing the group of reference countries to be more comparable to Canada, and changing reporting requirements .

The PMPRB has limitations, though. For example, it only regulates the factory gate price of prescription drugs or the price that patent holders charge wholesalers, hospitals, or pharmacies for their drug. The factory gate price is not the price that a person actually pays at a pharmacy . The final price depends on how much wholesalers and retailers mark up, how much pharmacists charge for filling the prescription, and how much insurance is willing to cover . The hidden costs contributing to the total prescription drug cost are very hard to analyze due to lack of transparency in the industry and variability between province, payment plan, and drug type.


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Why has the cost of insulin grown so much?

“One in ten Americans has diabetes. In Virginia, I met a 13-year-old boy named Joshua Davis. He and his dad both have Type 1 diabetes, which means they need insulin every day. Insulin costs about $10 a vial to make,” Biden said. “But drug companies charge families like Joshua and his dad up to 30 times more.”

The President has suggested that America cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month so that anyone could afford it.

“Drug companies will still do very well. And while were at it let Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, like the VA already does.”

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Cost Of Insulin By Country

In 2018, the normal insulin costs in the US was $98.70, contrasted with $6.94 in Australia, $12.00 in Canada, and $7.52 in the UK. Insulin costs are in excess of multiple times higher in the US than in 32 practically identical, top level salary countries joined, as indicated by another RAND Corporation study. They found that in general, the normal US producer cost per standard unit over all insulins was $98.70, contrasted with $6.94 in Australia, $12.00 in Canada, and $7.52 in the UK.

In particular, for quick acting insulins, the US announced a normal cost of $111.39 per standard unit versus $8.19 in non-US nations. Also, for middle of the road acting insults, the US announced a normal cost of $73.56 per standard unit versus $5.95 in non-US nations. Conversely, in most higher-pay nations, simple insulins represented more than 80% and now and again, almost 100% of volumes and deals.

Although long-acting insulins spoke to a higher portion of volume than deals in the US , the portion of volume was higher in Japan France , and Germany . Between 66% and 75% of insulin deals and volume in Canada and Germany didnt line up with introductions accessible in the US. Analysts noticed that this is a direct result of the distinctions in the details of insulin accessible in those nations contrasted with those accessible in the US.

Push For Better Pricing

Statistics estimate that approximately 1.25 million individuals who have Type 1 diabetes rely on insulin to survive in the United States alone. And diabetes is continually cited as the most expensive chronic illness in the country.

In an effort to combat the rising costs of insulin, in 2016 the ADA launched its Make Insulin Affordable strategic health initiative. It included a petition that has, to date, been signed by more than 311,000 people and calls for complete cost transparency in the supply chain and affordable access to insulin for all those who use the medicine. The petition pushed for cost explorations and hearings on Capitol Hill as well. The ADA reports that more than 400 Congressional meeting on the matter have been held and more than 800 patient, caregiver and provider testimonies have been taken around affordable access to insulin.

Earlier this month ADAs Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer, Dr. William T. Cefalu testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. A few days later, the ADA published its report on the Make Insulin Affordable initiative in Diabetes Care under the title Insulin Access and Affordability Working Group: Conclusions and Recommendations.

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Overall Costs Associated With Diabetes

For Canadians without private insurance, diabetes costs can account for up to 27% of their annual income .

People with Type 2 diabetes who have some coverage report annual spends between $2,529-$2,868. For people with Type 1 diabetes, these costs can range between $531-$5,264.

Canadians without any coverage report spending up to $15,000 annually in out-of-pocket costs. The Canadian Diabetes Association found that 57% of Canadians are not fully complying with their treatment plan because of high costs. Canadians with diabetes have reported that they estimate their glucose levels, take less insulin than required, and take oral medications fewer times daily or in lower doses to reduce costs. Rationing insulin has been linked to diabetic emergencies, and death.

Diabetes costs related GoFundMe pages, while more common in the United States, are showing up among Canadians as well.

The above costs do not include medical visits and transportation, diagnostic tests, specialized home care visits, rehabilitation, or permanent residential care.

The Impact Of Diabetes In Canada

How Much Does Insulin Cost Per Month?

As diabetes diagnoses rise, the rate of diabetes-related health conditions rises with it. Those with diabetes in Canada account for 70% of all amputations not related to trauma, 50% of dialysis patients, 40% of heart attacks, and 30% of strokes annually.

Diabetes is a significant contributor to depression, with 30% of patients showing symptoms. It is also the top cause of blindness nationwide, and one in every ten deaths is somehow tied to diabetes. In shortthe healthcare costs of diabetes range far beyond just the cost of insulin.

The condition impacts more than just individuals and healthcare costs, too. Companies suffer due to employee sick time and missed work for medical emergencies. Employees who are not feeling well wont perform at their best, leading to work that needs to be redone or reassigned.

Prospective employees will also turn down jobs that they dont feel offer them proper insurance benefits. Since the cost of having diabetes and insulin is so high, many employees will take lower-paying work to have their medication covered.

If youre a business owner, its a good business practice to work with your employees and find plans that suit their medical needs. At Group Enroll, we work with top Canadian insurance providers to ensure you have plenty of options to make your company far more attractive to prospective employees.


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Are Insulin Vials Cheaper Than Pens

There is a significant difference in insulin prices between insulin vials and insulin pens. Using vials is less expensive than pens. However, some people feel that using pens as a delivery system provides a higher quality of life. The pens come prefilled, and when using the analog medications, the number of doses could be lower. The pens make it easier to take insulin with you, providing more freedom.

Using pens is safer, more convenient, and offers better glycemic control, according to a study published in 2018. However, this study also noted that people who use pens were spending significantly more each month for diabetes control. In some cases, it was three times more expensive to use pens.

Reasons Why Insulin Is So Outrageously Expensive

20 Jan 2019, 6:08 p.m. in #insulin4all USA by T1International

Why does insulin cost so much to patients in the USA and around the world? Why is insulin, a widely sold drug of which most forms are now off-patent, so incredibly expensive? These are simple questions, but ones with a number of complicated answers. This post will break some of those answers down and point you in the direction further reading if you want to dive deeper.

1. Only 3 Companies Control 90% of the Global Insulin Market

The big three insulin producers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi dominate more than 90% of the world insulin market by value. Often only one of these companies supplies insulin in a country, which means they more or less hold a monopoly there and can set prices as they wish. In some countries, notably China and India, there are domestic insulin companies that can help drive down the price. This means we need more companies in markets like the USA to help bring prices down. Well touch on that a bit further down the list.

2. No Generic Insulin

3.Pay-for-Delay Schemes & Lawsuits

4. Patents

5. Politics

6. Price Fixing

These Business Insider graphs pretty much say it all.

Several lawsuits alleging some form price-fixing are currently in the works. You can read more here and here.

7. Pharma Marketing Schemes

8. Payment for Influence

What Can be Done?

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How Much Does A Month Of Insulin Cost

Everyone has different insulin needs. There isnt a one size fits all approach to determining how much insulin you need. Those taking analog insulin take a background or basal dose once or twice a day. In contrast, those taking regular human insulin take it three to four times a day.

This cadence is the only insulin some people with type 2 diabetes need. But for type 1 diabetes, and some with type 2, additional insulin is needed at mealtime. Depending on which insulin you are using, it should be taken 10 to 30 minutes before your meal. The amount of insulin depends on what you plan to eat. For example, you might need 1-3 units per carbohydrate portion .

People with type 1 diabetes generally use two different types of insulin per day. They start with two injections per day and progress to three to four doses per day, according to the American Diabetes Association . People with type 2 diabetes might start with 0.5-0.8 units per kilogram of body weight per day and eventually take 1-2 units per kilogram of weight. For a person weighing 150 pounds, this would be 68 to 136 units per day. For a person weighing 175 pounds, this would be 80-160 units per day.

One vial of insulin contains 1000 units, and pens contain 300 units.

Insulin Prices

* Based on three vials or 10 pens

In addition to the above costs, you might also require additional supplies, such as:


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