Walmart now has a lower cost insulin option for diabetics.
Walmart has announced it is rolling out a reduced cost insulin that will be made available to those who do not have health insurance or struggle to afford the cost of this drug. The retailer’s pharmacies will start offering its own private label version of analog insulin, called ReliOn NovoLog.
ReliOn products include private label, lower priced versions of blood glucose monitors, lancets, and other diabetes management must-haves. The drug will also be available at Sam’s Club later this month, and the insulin will cost about $73 for a vial or about $86 for a package of pre-filled insulin pens.
“These products will save customers between 58% to 75% off the cash price of branded analog insulin products, which translates to a savings of up to $101 per branded vial or $251 per package of branded FlexPens,” the company said in a press release. “With ReliOn NovoLog insulin, we’re adding a high-quality medication for diabetes to the already affordable ReliOn line of products and continuing our commitment to improve access and lowering cost of care.”
“We know many people with diabetes struggle to manage the financial burden of this condition, and we are focused on helping by providing affordable solutions,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president, Walmart Health & Wellness. “We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations.”
Lawmakers have long criticized diabetes drug companies for increasing prices, and Walmart worked directly with manufacturer Novo Nordisk to reduce costs. “This price point, we hope, will improve and hopefully revolutionize the accessibility and affordability of insulin,” Pegus added.
In a commentary written for Mayo Clinic, S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, discussed that the most popular forms of analog insulin “cost 10 times more in the United States than in any other developed country.” He adds, “There have been many other recent reports of deaths in patients with type 1 diabetes because of lack of affordable insulin. The high prevalence of diabetes, the chronic lifelong nature of the disease, and the fact that patients with type 1 diabetes will die without access to insulin make this an urgent problem that must be solved expeditiously.”
The United States Senate’s Insulin Pricing Report published in January 2021 explains that the high list prices are “partially due to rebates paid by the insulin drug manufacturer to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers. These rebates guarantee that NovoLog is covered by insurance plans and available on formularies.” This is likely why it was necessary for the retailer to come up with its own product rather than cutting the list price of NovoLog. The private label allows everyone in the supply chain to continue receiving rebates.
“At Beyond Type 1, we believe that high quality, modern insulin must be available to people with diabetes regardless of employment or insurance status, across all demographics, without barriers and at an affordable and predictable price point,” explained Christel Marchand Aprigliano, chief advocacy officer for Beyond Type 1. “The launch of Walmart’s private-label ReliOn analog insulin is one step closer to ensuring that no one rations or dies from lack of affordable access to insulin in the United States, but longer-term systemic change is needed. We look forward to the elimination of more barriers through both commercial innovation and legislative policy efforts.”