Walmart Launches Lower-Cost Analog Insulin: ReliOn NovoLog
On June 29, 2021, Walmart announced the launch of its first private brand analog insulin, ReliOn™ NovoLog®. ReliOn NovoLog (insulin aspart) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used to control high blood sugar levels among adults and children with diabetes.
A private brand product is produced by a third-party, then obtained by a retailer who sells the product under its own brand name. In this case Walmart is acquiring NovoLog to sell under the ReliOn brand.
In the past 15 years, the cost of Insulin has skyrocketed and customers have had to pay exorbitant costs. It is estimated that people with diabetes incur roughly $9,601 in medical expenses yearly, expenditures that are 2.3 times higher when compared to a person without diabetes.
For people living with insulin-dependent diabetes, not having access to insulin can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition where the body does not have enough insulin to break down glucose. This condition can be life-threatening if not treated.
“We know many people with diabetes struggle to maintain the financial burden of this condition, and we are focused on helping by providing affordable solutions. We know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations,” Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of Walmart Health & Wellness, said in a press release.
Each ReliOn NovoLog vial (10 mL) will cost $72.88 and a box of five FlexPens (3 mL each, 15 mL per box) will cost $85.88.
These products will save customers between 58% to 75% off the cash (list) 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.
Walmart’s private label insulin will be manufactured by Novo Nordisk and will be available in Walmart pharmacies this week and Sam’s Club pharmacies by mid-July across the U.S.. Customers looking to purchase ReliOn NovoLog will require a current, valid prescription from a healthcare provider.
So why not just lower the list price of NovoLog? The likely answer can be found in the United States Senate’s Insulin Pricing Report published in January 2021. According to the report, high list prices for insulin are partially due to rebates paid by the insulin manufacturer to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers. These rebates guarantee that NovoLog is covered by insurance plans and available on formularies. Cutting the list price of NovoLog could jeopardize insurance coverage for those currently taking the drug, but the addition of a private-label option means that insurers, pharmacy benefit managers, and other members of the supply chain will continue to receive large rebates through existing contracts on NovoLog.
The price point at launch for ReliOn NovoLog is still significantly higher than what many pay for insulin through commercial insurance, and more expensive than analog insulin available through co-pay cards and patient assistance programs. However, for those who may not qualify or need insulin immediately, a lower list price at the pharmacy counter could go a long way.
“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” says 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.”
ReilOn NovoLog adds to Walmart’s other (non-analog) ReliOn brand insulins, Regular (insulin R) and NPH (insulin N) which are available for $25 per vial.
This content mentions NovoLog which is manufactured by Novo Nordisk, an active partner of Beyond Type 1.
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