CHICAGO – Today, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and other Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies joined Civica’s initiative to manufacture and distribute affordable insulins that, once approved, will be available to people living with diabetes at significantly lower prices than insulins currently on the market. The medications are expected to be available to all consumers for $30 or less per vial starting in 2024.
BCBSA and BCBS companies are collaborating on this initiative with Civica and other partners across the health care industry, representing nearly every corner of the diabetes ecosystem.
“This is an important milestone in our continued partnership with Civica as we advance our shared goal of bringing lower-cost prescription medication directly to consumers,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSA. “Access to affordable insulin can be the difference between life and death for diabetics – and we’re proud to be a part of Civica’s effort to ensure that millions of Americans have access to the medicine they need at a price they can afford. When we come together, we can make health care more affordable.”
More than 8 million Americans rely on insulin to live, but as many as one in four insulin users report having to skip doses or take less than prescribed amounts due to the high cost of the medicine1. The financial burden has made the drug inaccessible for many and has led to patients developing health conditions that were once preventable.
Through this initiative, Civica will manufacture and distribute three analog insulins – glargine, lispro and aspart – which will be biosimilar drugs of the brand-name insulins Lantus, Humalog and Novolog. The insulins will be available in vials and prefilled pens at no more than $30 per vial or $55 for a box of five pens.
“Diabetes is arguably America’s most expensive chronic condition, and it is heartbreaking that millions of people are rationing their care and putting their lives at risk because they can no longer afford insulin,” said Dan Liljenquist, board chair of Civica. “Through mission-driven partnerships, we are choosing to create a new market reality where no one is forced to ration essential diabetes medications.”
This insulin initiative is one of the many ways BCBS companies are partnering with Civica to increase access to safe and affordable medications. This announcement follows the founding of Civica’s subsidiary, CivicaScript, by BCBSA, 18 BCBS companies and Civica Rx to develop and manufacture common generic medications for which there is currently not enough market competition to drive down prices. The first of these lower-cost generic prescriptions are expected to be available to consumers through specialty and home delivery pharmacies later this year.
Statements from Blue Cross and Blue Shield leaders:
“Providing diabetics access to affordable insulin to help improve their overall health and quality of life corresponds perfectly with our goal to lower health care costs, including the price of prescription drugs,” said Dr. Dow Briggs, executive vice president for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “Partnering with other Blue Plans to support Civica’s efforts is a major move forward in addressing health inequities not only in Alabama, but nationwide.”
“At a time when drug prices are crippling our neighbors, Civica’s move toward affordable insulin offers an inspiring reminder that when we come together to pursue creative solutions to thorny problems, great outcomes are within reach,” said Don George, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont.
“Blue Cross of Idaho is driven to bring down the cost of care for all Idahoans,” said Drew Hobby, executive vice president for Healthcare Economics and Operations for Blue Cross of Idaho. “Through our national partnership, we will offer Idaho families a more affordable option for insulin. This will allow Idahoans to purchase this life-saving drug without being forced to choose between insulin or groceries. We are proud of our partnership with Civica, as it helps us meet our goal of driving down the cost of prescription drugs for Idahoans.”
“The availability of affordable insulin will directly benefit the more than 3 million Californians with diabetes, as well as help address the skyrocketing prescription drug costs that drive up the cost of health care in our state,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California. “We are proud to have been a leading voice behind CivicaScript from the beginning as part of our nonprofit mission to create a health care system that is worthy of our family and friends, and sustainably affordable.”
“CareFirst is proud to join the Civica Affordable Insulin Initiative as part of the important effort to make this life-saving medication more affordable and accessible for the people we serve,” said Brian D. Pieninck, president and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “Far too often, economic instability and soaring prescription prices force people to choose between paying for medications or other necessities of life. This initiative supports access to affordable insulin for those who need it. Our partnership with Civica complements the significant investment CareFirst has made with community partners and stakeholders to improve the factors contributing to the development of chronic diseases like diabetes and the impact they have on people’s health outcomes and quality of life.”
“We’re proud to be part of this national collaboration to bring more affordable insulin and other medications to our communities,” said Mona Chitre, Pharm.D., chief pharmacy officer and vice president of Integrated Health Strategy for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “The Civica initiative will help us fulfill our critical role of controlling rising health care costs while also ensuring that more patients take their medication as prescribed since their prescription drugs will now be more affordable.”
“Almost a quarter of diabetics who live below the poverty line need insulin to live. For them, affordability is about life or death. We simply cannot overlook this health equity issue,” said Florida Blue President and CEO Pat Geraghty. “That’s why Florida Blue is supporting Civica’s nonprofit effort to address this need by manufacturing insulins at a lower cost than is currently available on the market. Insulin was first used to save a human life 100 years ago and its discovery was worthy of a Nobel Prize. There is no reason this life-saving drug should still be cost prohibitive for many. Through this initiative, the health care community is coming together to do better for all.”
“Diabetes is the most prevalent chronic condition in Hawaii, and the most vulnerable of our population have some of the worst outcomes. Our goal of better population health and improved health equity make our support of this Civica insulin initiative a no-brainer. Hawaii is all in,” said Dr. Mark Mugiishi, president and CEO of Hawaii Medical Service Association.
“The announcement today regarding Civica’s plan to manufacture low-cost insulin is great news for our members and is aligned with our strategy to improve drug access and affordability for our members,” said Sarah Marche, senior vice president for Highmark, Inc. “The prevalence of diabetes within our population continues to increase and access to affordable insulin is often a major concern so we are excited to be part of a solution that will bring increased transparency and affordability to our diabetic population.”
“By increasing the availability of more affordable generic insulin, we are making clear our commitment to helping our diabetic members obtain the life-saving medicines they depend on to achieve their best health. As health solutions leaders, we are driving new partnerships and innovations that make health care better and more affordable not just for our own members, but for everyone,” said Gary D. St. Hilaire, CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
“The high cost of insulin can make living a healthy life a daily struggle for people who have diabetes. Having access to life-saving drugs shouldn’t be tied to anyone’s socio-economic circumstances. We have to lower pharmacy costs and make health care more equitable and affordable,” said Susan Larkin, senior vice president, Health Markets for Independence Blue Cross.
1) JAMA, Cost-Related Insulin Underuse Among Patients with Diabetes, 2019