According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 34 million Americans live with diabetes. On average, the cost of medical expenses for people with diagnosed diabetes is approximately 2.3 times higher than for people without diabetes, much of that due to the cost of insulin.
On June 29, Walmart announced the launch of the first private brand of analog insulin. ReliOn NovoLog is an insulin injection manufactured by Novo Nordisk, a multinational pharmaceutical company that has been working to defeat diabetes for almost 100 years. Walmart insulin could help to decrease those high statistics associated with a diabetes diagnosis.
Walmart Insulin Brand More Affordable To Consumers
The most notable aspect of this news is that through Walmart, insulin is much more affordable. The retailer says that the analog insulin vials retail for $72.88 and FlexPens are $85.88. These prices are 58% to 75% lower than the cash price of branded analog insulin products, translating to a savings of up to $101 per branded vial or $251 per package of branded FlexPens.
That said, the actual out-of-pocket costs a consumer will pay for insulin may vary based on insurance and other factors. For example, Walmart reports that the savings provided were calculated based on patients purchasing insulin without prescription drug insurance.
“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,” Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president, Walmart Health & Wellness, said 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.”
ReliOn is the store brand of products for customers with diabetes at Walmart. Insulin is not the only product sold under the ReliOn name. The mass retailer also offers blood glucose monitors, lancets and other affordable diabetes management essentials.
Fighting The High Cost Of Insulin
For years, patients, advocates and lawyers have filed several lawsuits against insulin manufacturers stating that the companies are overpricing the prescription drug. Since 2019, the FDA has approved several generic versions of insulin, helping to bring down costs for some patients.
“Diabetes often comes with high medical costs, estimated around $9,601 per person per year. We welcome all affordable solutions that make diabetes management more accessible to millions of Americans living with diabetes,” Tracey D. Brown, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, said in a statement on Walmart’s website regarding ReliOn NovoLog insulin. “We encourage everyone to ask their health care provider questions to better understand what the right and affordable treatment is for their unique medical needs.”
Diabetes advocacy groups have had mixed reactions to the news. Some say even this price is still too high, given that insulin doesn’t cost much to manufacture. However, any break in the high cost of insulin is helpful for patients who must have several vials each month.
The new Walmart insulin is available in Walmart pharmacies this week and Sam’s Club pharmacies in mid-July across the United States. Although the retail chain has sold over-the-counter insulin in the past, customers will need a prescription to purchase ReliOn NovoLog insulin.
If you are considering a change in insulin brands or other medications, consulting with your primary care provider is always advisable.
As stated in the Walmart press release, “…every patient is unique and may respond differently to treatment, so the ultimate treatment decision should be based on their health care provider’s recommendation.”