Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the month­ly price of in­sulin at $35 na­tion­wide makes its way for a Sen­ate vote soon, Sanofi an­nounced Wednes­day morn­ing that be­gin­ning next month it will cut the month­ly price of its in­sulins for unin­sured Amer­i­cans to $35, down from $99 pre­vi­ous­ly.

The an­nounce­ment from Sanofi, which al­lows the unin­sured to buy one or mul­ti­ple Sanofi in­sulins (Lan­tus, In­sulin Glargine U-100, Tou­jeo, Ad­mel­og, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day sup­ply ef­fec­tive Ju­ly 1, fol­lows House pas­sage (232-193) of the month­ly cap in March, with just 12 Re­pub­li­cans vot­ing in fa­vor of the mea­sure.

While both the Sen­ate and the House bills ef­fec­tive­ly cut what many of those who re­ly on in­sulin to stay alive will pay at the phar­ma­cy counter, it doesn’t hit the prices set by the phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ers, nor does it help those who are unin­sured. Ma­jor­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sim­i­lar­ly said in March that a vote was com­ing soon then.

In­sulin jug­ger­naut Eli Lil­ly — one of the big three man­u­fac­tur­ers along with No­vo Nordisk and Sanofi — pre­vi­ous­ly told End­points News ex­clu­sive­ly that it sup­ports the bill.

A Sanofi spokesper­son sim­i­lar­ly said the com­pa­ny sup­port­ed the bill but with some reser­va­tions, telling End­points via email:

While we sup­port the $35 out-of-pock­et cap for pa­tients, the way this bill would achieve that goal is un­nec­es­sar­i­ly com­pli­cat­ed and bu­reau­crat­ic, which could re­sult in unan­tic­i­pat­ed dis­tor­tions in oth­er parts of the drug dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem. In­stead, Con­gress should pur­sue a sim­pler $35 co-pay cap which would de­liv­er faster and greater sav­ings for all pa­tients.

Sanofi, mean­while, says that all com­mer­cial­ly in­sured peo­ple are el­i­gi­ble for its co-pay as­sis­tance pro­grams, re­gard­less of in­come or in­sur­ance, “which lim­its out-of-pock­et ex­pens­es for a ma­jor­i­ty of peo­ple be­tween $0 and $10.” But the com­pa­ny al­so con­firmed that some di­a­bet­ics tak­ing Sanofi’s in­sulins would see sav­ings with the House bill.

Lau­ra Marston

In 2021, about 68% of pa­tients with com­mer­cial in­sur­ance paid $35 or less out of pock­et per fill for Sanofi’s Lan­tus, a spokesper­son added, as did about 72% of pa­tients with Medicare Part D.

But some in­sulin price ad­vo­cates don’t think this lat­est Sanofi move re­al­ly goes far enough.

“It’s not even a band-aid on a bul­let wound, be­cause it’s a vol­un­tary pro­gram that Sanofi can end at any time,” Lau­ra Marston, an at­tor­ney with type 1 di­a­betes who ad­vo­cates for low­er in­sulin prices, told End­points, adding:

In­sulin-de­pen­dent di­a­betes is for life. Sanofi’s PR move is not. I am hope­ful Sanofi’s new in­sulin coupon pro­gram will save mon­ey for the unin­sured. I am dis­mayed we live in a coun­try where 1 in 4 di­a­bet­ics can’t af­ford in­sulin and our gov­ern­ment leaves us to re­ly on half-mea­sures by the very com­pa­nies who hold our lives hostage for prof­it. Con­gress must cap the list price of in­sulin for all and must stand up to PhRMA on be­half of pa­tients, even while PhRMA pro­claims to be solv­ing the in­sulin price cri­sis it alone cre­at­ed.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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FDA preps for DMD drug gener­ics as Sarep­ta has yet to fin­ish its con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al

The FDA typically releases guidance to help generic drug manufacturers develop new copycats of small molecule drugs, oftentimes in preparation for a brand name product’s patents or exclusivity to expire.

This week, FDA released such bioequivalence guidance for any generic drugmakers looking to take on Sarepta’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug Exondys 51 (eteplirsen), even though the drug’s sponsor has yet to convert the accelerated approval to a full approval, showing clinical benefit.

Stanley Erck, Novavax CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

No­vavax pulls out of Covid-19 vac­cine al­liance with Gavi

Novavax is pulling out of its Covid-19 vaccine deal with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global partnership tasked with ensuring vaccine access in lower-income countries, following an alleged contract violation.

The Maryland-based company claimed on Friday that Gavi failed to purchase at least 350 million doses of its protein-based vaccine Nuvaxovid by the end of the year, per an advanced purchase agreement. Gavi, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) are co-leaders of COVAX, an effort to ensure that all participating countries, regardless of income levels, have access to vaccines.

Fu­ji­film to build $188M man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in North Car­oli­na’s re­search tri­an­gle

As the Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm continues to invest heavily in its CDMO arm, one of its manufacturing divisions is teeing up a major investment.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific announced on Tuesday that parent Fujifilm is making a $188 million investment to build a cell culture media manufacturing site in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. The new site will mark Fujifilm Irvine’s fifth manufacturing site globally and its second in the US.