Eli Lilly CEO says Elizabeth Warren’s claims they failed on cheaper insulin is ‘nonsense’

pharmafile | December 18, 2019 | News story | Research and Development Bernie Sanders, Eli Lilly, Elizabeth Warren, US Pharma, US Presidential Election, insulin 

David Ricks, the CEO of Eli Lilly, has said that Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren’s claims his company failed on its pledge to provide lower-priced insulin is “nonsense.”

Ricks said this, in an interview with CNBC, in response to a survey Warren released on Monday with Senator Richard Blumenthal.

The report analysed nearly 400 pharmacies nationwide regarding the availability of Eli Lilly’s authorised generic insulin, called Insulin Lispro. It summarised that the treatment is widely unavailable in pharmacies across the country, and the company has not taken meaningful steps to increase its availability and affordability.

Senator Warren on Monday said: “This report shows that pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has not lived up to its promise to provide lower-priced insulin to patients who need it. With rising prescription drug costs squeezing families in every part of the country, Congress must bring drug prices down for consumers, hold drug companies accountable for needless price hikes, and encourage more competition in the prescription drug market.”

David Ricks, in an interview with Jim Cramer, said: “I have not read the report but I have read their press release, and I can tell you what the facts are today. Many policy-makers encouraged us to just lower the prices of insulin. We did that, we launched a half price version of our bestselling product. We can argue if half price is enough – it’s a pretty big difference. We made it available this spring, it is distributed widely.”

“But I would say, on the availability in pharmacies, one of the three major national wholesalers has chosen not to cover it; some pharmacies have chosen not to carry it. Why? Because this exposes the underlying economics in our system, which is that the middle men in the supply chains prefer high list price products with a lot of rebate, this drug has a lower list price and less rebate.”

Eli Lilly announced back in March that its drug Humalog would be sold for half-price. The half-price product, Insulin Lispro, is $137.35 per vial.

Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support the US transitioning to a ‘Medicare-for-All’ system of healthcare, similar to socialised healthcare systems used by European and Scandinavian countries.

In these types of systems, the state institution negotiates with the pharmaceutical companies to find an affordable price for the drugs. US companies have been frustrated by having to sell their products at a lower price than they do domestically, to foreign healthcare systems like the NHS. This has been brought up in the secret trade talks discussing a post Brexit UK-US trade deal.

Conor Kavanagh

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