No Insulin Price Cut Coming for Canada Despite U.S. Slashes, Eli Lilly Says


Eli Lilly and Co.’s price cuts to its insulin products in the United States won’t be coming to Canada, the company tells Global News.

The drug manufacturer, which is one of the largest producers in the world, announced Wednesday that it will cut prices for some of its most commonly prescribed insulin products in the United States.

By capping the price at US$25 ($35) a vial, and expanding its existing US$35 ($50) cap on some insulin products to 85 per cent of U.S. pharmacies, it’s expected to provide instant relief to potentially millions of Americans struggling to buy the life-saving diabetes medication.

But given the “affordability situation” is different in Canada, Eli Lilly said in a statement there will be no changes to its products north of the border.

The “announcement is specific to the United States and there are no changes to Lilly’s insulin products here in Canada. Lilly believes that no Canadian should go without needed medicines for the reason that they cannot afford them,” a spokesperson told Global News on Thursday.

“The affordability situation in Canada is quite different from the United States, but we are committed to working with stakeholders to build solutions to address the coverage gaps that exist in Canada.”

Canada has drug price controls in place which are set and reviewed by a body called the Patented Medicines Pricing Review Board. It regulates the pricing of patented medicine, including insulin, and sets a maximum price that the drugs can be sold for.

The move by Eli Lilly comes after U.S. President Joe Biden pushed for a universal US$35 cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs during the annual State of the Union address last month. Biden applauded the move by Lilly, calling it “a big deal.”

List prices are what a drug maker initially sets for a product and what people who have no insurance or plans with high deductibles are sometimes stuck paying.

A US$35 cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs already exists for the millions of Americans covered under Medicare, but those with private insurance or no insurance stand to gain the most from Lilly’s program expansion — and the price cap is effective immediately.

Eli Lilly told Global News the U.S. price cuts will not impact Canadian supply, and there are “no risks of a shortage.”

“Diabetes remains a critical health need worldwide, and Lilly has been a committed leader for 100 years in improving the lives of people with diabetes who need insulin,” the spokesperson said.

“Delivering breakthrough outcomes in diabetes means we must push the boundaries for what’s possible in treatment to improve poor health outcomes and close the gap on affordability and access. Lilly remains committed to paving the way to make it even easier for people to access Lilly insulin.”

Eli Lilly became the first company to commercialize insulin in 1923, two years after scientists at the University of Toronto discovered it.

Source: Global News