Managing healthcare costs for patients in the US is becoming a more challenging goal day by day. President Donald Trump’s effort to reform healthcare policy and lower prescription drug costs in 2018 was not successful.

As a result, the trajectory of higher drug costs in the US remains the same. High drug prices in the US are having an immense effect, especially on patients such as those suffering from diabetes, who need to purchase insulin.

Pharmaceutical giants like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lily, who manufacture and supply insulin in the US, have been on the top of their game with developing diabetes therapies. With the advancements in technology, coupled with novel methods of insulin drug delivery, pharmaceutical companies undoubtedly have to address the above along with the need to lower the cost of insulin products.

Recently, US lawmakers sent letters to Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk requesting information on the increased costs of insulin in recent years, and the companies’ profits from sales of these products.

The Drug Sales and Consensus Forecast from the GlobalData Pharma Intelligence Center anticipates a drop in drug sales for Eli Lily’s Humulin and Novo Nordisk’s Actrapid (as shown in Figure 1 below).


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In contrast, MannKind‘s Afrezza has emerged as one of the promising inhaled insulin products, making use of the novel Technosphere dry powder formulation. Afrezza’s onset of action is 15 minutes and its duration of action is 2–3 hours, which is ideal for postprandial blood glucose control.

Afrezza was launched in the US market for diabetes management in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), and this cost-effective product is forecast to see growing sales, with patients showing a preference for its less painful delivery system.

Figure 1: Consensus forecast of insulin product sales,
US, 2018–2024

Source: GlobalData

Although insulin has been available for decades, prices have been significantly increasing in the recent past. Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare policies in the US will have to clearly address the challenge of reducing healthcare costs, especially for health-critical products like insulin.

Lawmakers should play a part in assessing the recent changes to insulin products and should continue to investigate the reasons for the price increases. Policy changes are required to ensure that Insulin and other important drugs are made more available, rather than the current trend of becoming unaffordable for patients.