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Lilly program provides discounted insulin pricing

Lisa Foster-McNulty, MSN, RN, CDE


On December 13, 2016, Eli Lilly and Company announced that beginning on January 1, 2017, people who use Lilly insulin will be able to access discounted pricing via mobile and web platforms hosted by Blink Health.  The discounts are provided by Lilly through a partnership with Express Scripts, and could reduce costs for insulin users who pay full retail price at the pharmacy.


The cost of insulin has increased for some people, owing to changes in insurance benefit design.  Although insulin is affordable for most people, this is due to discounts and rebates that the manufacturers pay.  It does not help people who are uninsured or who are in the deductible phase of their high-deductible plan.  Some high-deductible plans exempt insulin from the deductible phase, but others have a requirement that people have to pay most or all of the retail price until the deductible is met.  So these insulin users don’t benefit from rebates when they visit the pharmacy. 

People who pay full price for most Lilly insulins may be able to save 40% when using the Blink Health platforms.
This discount program represents the first time that branded medicines will be discounted via the Blink Health platform, as it was previously only used for generic prescription drugs.

Lilly Diabetes vice president Mike Mason indicated that the company understands the burden people face when paying full retail price for insulin.  This platform lets Lilly lower retail pricing for users, yet it does not affect the reimbursement system for other insulin users.  Lilly has been meeting with advocacy groups and with people with diabetes for months, and earlier this past fall they (along with Express Scripts) started working on options for insulin users who pay full retail price.  Lilly hopes this will prompt more change within the healthcare system for people who use insulin. 

The starting point of this offer dovetails with the new deductible period for many plans on January 1, 2017.  The program includes Humalog, all Humulin U-100 formulations, and BASAGLAR (insulin glargine injection 100units/mL), which is a long-acting follow-on biologic newly introduced by Lilly and Boehringer Ingleheim.

People who use the platform will be going outside their health plan to access the savings, so the new retail price may not be applied to annual deductibles.  Someone who is considering using this platform would be advised to compare the benefits to their current prescription insurance options in order to conclude which program would be best for them.

How to participate in the program:

You can use a smart phone app, or the Blink Health website.  There are no membership fees or monthly premiums.  Enter the form, dosage, and quantity of Lilly insulin that matches your prescription.  The discount will be automatically applied.  Payments are made online and prescriptions can be picked up at just about any US pharmacy, including Walgreens, CVS, Target, RiteAid, Safeway, and Kroger. 

People whose prescription claims are reimbursed by a government program are not eligible.  Purchases are fully refundable.  Lilly will keep the public updated on details of the program through their Twitter handles, @LillyDiabetes and @LillyPad, and other digital channels.    


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