PITTSBURGH — Insulin is a life-saving drug for those managing their diabetes, but the cost has continued to skyrocket, and now a local healthcare provider is finding a way to cut it.
In March, Highmark, along with 17 other Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations, announced a partnership with Civica RX to manufacture and distribute three insulin analogs: glargine, lispro and aspart. These will be biosimilar drugs to Lantus, Humalog and Novolog brand insulins.
Insulins will be available in vials and prefilled pens at a price not to exceed $30 per vial or $55 for a box of five pens.
One goal – Sarah Marche, Senior Vice President of Pharmacy at Highmark, said it will change patient care.
“We want people to take their medications as prescribed,” Marche said.
Marche said that according to recent data, 25% of patients skip critical doses to stretch their supply.
“Insulin is our life, without insulin we don’t last,” Mark Masa said.
Masa, a television photographer, has worked at WPXI for over 30 years and has struggled with type 1 diabetes for most of his life.
“I was diagnosed when I was three years old, so August 2 will be 58 years,” said Masa, who explained that over the years he had watched the prices increase.
According to the American Diabetes Association of America, 1 in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and, like Masa, think the cost of insulin is just too high.
“It’s unaffordable for many people whether insured or uninsured,” Marche said.
But now, with the newly announced partnership, Highmark will be able to offer access to its members and patients.
“Civica offers or hopes to be able to supply insulin at $30 a vial.”
That’s about a 90% reduction.
A local discount pharmacist believes this will not only reduce costs, but help save lives.
Kyle McCormick, owner of low-cost Blueberry Pharmacy, said market competition would reduce costs.
“Usually a bottle can go for $90 to $200 for a pharmacist,” said McCormick, who added, “Introductions like Civica drive competition and drive prices down.”
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