(Reuters) - Sanofi SA said on Thursday it will cut U.S. 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 drugmaker will also extend its $35 out-of-pocket pricing program to all patients with commercial insurance using Lantus.
The move comes as U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. use insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Rival Novo Nordisk on Tuesday said it would cut U.S. 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 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 U.S. insulin market, to avoid paying substantial rebates to the U.S. government Medicaid program in 2024.
Under a U.S. 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 of 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.
(Reporting by Patrick Wingrove in New York and Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bill Berkrot)
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