The Scoop on Walmart Insulin

Written by Jeffrey Poirier, MBA, RPh | Posted July 07, 2021

Patents have expired on two competing insulins produced by Eli Lilly (Humalog) and Novo Nordisk (Novolog). Both companies produced and marketed their own "authorized" generic versions in 2019, however, these products did not achieve much market share as they really were not much of a price break and many insurers did not cover them. 

Sanofi launched their own version of Eli Lilly's Humalog called Admelog, however, it was not interchangeable with Humalog, is considered a biosimilar (not generic), and market penetration was low for this product as well. Both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have taken a lot of heat politically over the last few years due to the high prices of these critical medications and are now deploying different strategies to lower costs and improve market share. Both insulin aspart (Novolog) and insulin lispro (Humalog) have similar efficacy and are typically interchanged at hospitals through the authority of a Pharmacy and Therapeutics committee, however, in the outpatient setting, any changes from Novolog to Humalog or Admelog require a new prescription. 

The Walmart initiative with Novolog represents significant savings for the consumer and an opportunity for Novo Nordisk to gain market share through direct marketing through one of the largest retailers. Prior to this initiative, Novolog, Humalog, and Admelog all had similar cost of about $140/vial and $265/box of 5x3ml pens. Walmart states the prices for the private label "authorized" generic will be approximately $75/vial and $86/box of pens representing an approximate 50% savings on the vials and even greater savings on the pens if indeed the box contains 5x3ml. Eli Lilly is likely to respond with a deal of their own with a different major retailer. In this war for market share, it seems the consumer may win!

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