Walmart announced on Tuesday it is now offering a new brand of insulin significantly cheaper than other options.
Through its brand ReliOn, the company will sell insulin vials for $73 and prefilled pens for $86.
This constitutes savings of up to 75 percent with other products on the market costing $101 per vial or $251 for a package of pens.
The average cost of insulin for Americans with type 1 diabetes is $5,700 a year and it’s grown significantly in recent years.
Walmart’s new option makes this vital drug more accessible for diabetes patients, but Americans still pay astronomical prices compared to other patients around the world.
Walmart is offering a new brand of insulin that will be more affordable for diabetes patients. Pictured: A Walmart sign at a store in Sulphur Springs, Texas, May 2019
That means savings up to $101 per vial or $251 per pack of pens, making the new brand 75% less expensive. Pictured: A diabetes patient holding up Humalog, which costs $250 a vial
An estimated 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, representing 11 percent of the population, and 1.5 million more are diagnosed each year.
The American Diabetes Association estimated in 2018 that one in seven dollars spent on healthcare in the U.S. goes towards diabetes treatments.
Costs have only risen since them.
One of the biggest contributors to these high costs is insulin, which is a hormone that enables the body to use sugars from food for energy and balances blood sugar levels.
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, this means their body is not able to use insulin properly or make enough of the hormone.
Type 1 diabetes is autoimmune and usually diagnosed at a young age, while type 2 diabetes can develop later in life.
Patients with type 1 diabetes require regular insulin injections to control their blood sugar.
Many patients take these injections with a syringe. Insulin pens have also become popular more recently – these pens allow patients to take their insulin shots without poking themselves with a needle every time.
Whatever method a patient uses to get their insulin shots, though, the drug is incredibly expensive.
The average type 1 diabetes patient spends at least $5,700 on insulin each year, according to the Health Care Cost Institute – and that cost nearly doubled in four years, from $2,900 in 2012 to $5,700 in 2016.
One in seven dollars spent on healthcare in the U.S. goes to diabetes treatments, according to the American Diabetes Association
Walmart has introduced a new, cheaper option for these patients.
The retail giant has produced a private-label version of insulin called ReliOn NovoLog which costs only $73 a vial.
NovoLog is a fast-acting insulin used to control high blood sugar in children and adults with diabetes.
It’s an analog insulin, meaning it’s been designed to closely mimic insulin made by the human body.
This type of insulin tends to be more effective than older versions made in animals – and it’s often more expensive as a result.
Walmart’s insulin brand will cost $73 for a vial or $86 for a package of insulin pens prefilled with the drug, both available to patients with prescriptions.
Customers will save up to $101 per vial or $251 per package of pens when they buy this brand – savings up to 75% of the cash price.
To cut down on costs, Walmart worked directly with its manufacturer – the global healthcare company Novo Nordisk, according to NBC News.
Walmart pharmacies will start offering the new insulin brand this week. Pictured: A Walmart store in East Setauket, New York, March 2020
The new insulin brand will be available in Walmart pharmacies this week and Sam’s Club pharmacies starting in mid-July.
This product adds to other affordable options that Walmart provides to patients with diabetes, including blood glucose monitors and lancets.
‘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 of Walmart Health & Wellness, in a statement.
‘We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations. 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.’
Tracy Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, also expressed support for the new insulin option.
‘Diabetes often comes with high medical costs, estimated around $9,601 per person per year,’ she said.
‘We welcome all affordable solutions that make diabetes management more accessible to millions of Americans living with diabetes.’
Even with Walmart’s new branded insulin, however, the drug is still far more expensive in the U.S. than in other countries.
Novolog insulin costs patients ten times more per milliliter in the U.S. than in countries like Australia and South Africa, according to World Population review.