Walmart to launch its own line of insulin, claiming it will cut costs

Insulin (Cropped Photo: Alan Levine / CC BY 2.0 )

(CBS) — Walmart on Tuesday said it will start selling its own private brand of analog insulin with prices that are up to 75% below the cost of competing products. Insulin prices have escalated for years, making them unaffordable for some people with diabetes.

Walmart said the private-brand insulin will cost $72.88 per vial and $85.88 per FlexPen, which the retailer said reflects prices that are between 58% to 75% lower than other insulin products on the market. That will save patients $101 per branded vial and $251 per package of branded FlexPens, according to Walmart.

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The rising cost of insulin has drawn criticism from lawmakers and patients alike, with some diabetics saying they’ve had to ration insulin or make other risky decisions because of problems affording it.

Although insulin has been used as medication for roughly a century, no generic versions of the drug are available. Only three manufacturers — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — control 99% of the market. Walmart said that its private brand insulin will be made by Novo Nordisk.

Tracey D. Brown, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, said in Walmart’s statement that the group welcomed “all affordable solutions” to managing the disease.

“Diabetes often comes with high medical costs, estimated around $9,601 per person per year,” Brown said.