INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly and Co. has partnered with Express Scripts to enable diabetes patients to access discounts for Lilly insulin products through digital drug search and pricing service Blink Health.
Lilly said Tuesday that the discounted prices for its insulin are slated to become available on Jan. 1 through Blink Health mobile and web platforms. People expected to benefit are those who pay full retail prices at the pharmacy, including patients who have no insurance or are in the deductible phase of high-deductible insurance plans.
Through the Blink Health Insulin Patient Access Program, people who pay full price for most Lilly insulins may save 40%, the companies said. The program marks the first time branded drugs will be discounted via Blink Health, which has previously only been used for generic drugs.
“We understand the burden people face when paying full price for insulin,” Mike Mason, vice president of Lilly Diabetes, said in a statement. “This platform will effectively allow Lilly to lower our insulin retail prices for users of this platform while not affecting the reimbursement system for other people living with diabetes.”
The program includes all presentations of Humalog (insulin lispro injection 100 units/ml) available at pharmacies, all Humulin U100 formulations (insulin human injection 100 units/ml) and Basaglar (insulin glargine injection 100 units/ml), a long-acting, follow-on biologic being introduced this month by Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.
Patients can access the program via a mobile app or the Blink Health website, which has no membership fees or monthly premiums. They enter the form, dosage and quantity of Lilly insulin that matches their prescription. The discount is then automatically applied.
Payments are made online, and the prescriptions can be picked up at almost any U.S. pharmacy, such as Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Target, Rite Aid, Safeway, Kroger, Publix and Meijer locations, among others.
The Blink Health Insulin Patient Access Program delivers the 40% discount directly to patients and will be honored at more than 67,000 pharmacies nationwide.
“When it comes to life-saving medications, every dollar of savings counts. We’re proud to be able to collaborate with key partners to offer the Blink Health Insulin Patient Access Program across the country,” stated Blink Health co-founder and chief executive officer Geoffrey Chaiken. “Patients who purchase Lilly insulins through Blink Health’s mobile app or website will not only get the lowest price available, but they can keep the convenience of picking up at local pharmacies across the country, including major retail chains.”
Changes in insurance benefit design have hiked the cost of insulin for some people, Lilly noted. Discounts and rebates paid by manufacturers have helped make insulin affordable for most people, but they don’t help the uninsured or people still meeting their deductible in a high-deductible plan.
And although some high-deductible plans exempt insulin from the deductible phase, others require people to pay most or all of the retail price until the deductible is met, according to the company.
Lilly said it has met with leaders in the diabetes community, including leading advocacy groups and people with diabetes, about the price of insulin for several months.
The company said that earlier this fall it started working with Express Scripts on options for people who pay full retail price for insulin.
“The health care system is incredibly complex, and we hope this program is a first step that will drive more thinking and innovative solutions for people with diabetes,” commented Enrique Conterno, president of Lilly Diabetes. “A more extensive solution will require leadership and cooperation across many stakeholders, including manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, insurers and patients. We’re committed to seeking additional solutions so that everyone who uses insulin has reasonable access.”
People who use the program will go outside their health plan to realize the savings, meaning that the new retail price may not be applied to annual deductibles, according to Lilly. The company recommended that those considering the platform compare the benefits to their current prescription coverage before deciding which program is best. People whose prescription claims are reimbursed by a government program aren’t eligible.