Walmart To Offer Own Line of Insulin at Lower Cost Than Branded Versions

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CNBC Television

Walmart Inc (NYSE:  WMT)  announced Tuesday it will begin offering private-label insulin this summer at a much lower price than branded versions of the life-saving diabetes drug. 

The retailer said it is teaming up with Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE:  NVO) to sell an exclusive version of analog insulin through Walmart’s private ReliOn brand as part of a push to expand its health offerings.

Starting this week, ReliOn Novolog vials and Flexpens will be available at Walmart pharmacies to adults and children who have a prescription. The products will be offered at Sam’s Club pharmacies by mid-July.

In a statement, Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of Walmart health & wellness, said, “We know many people with diabetes struggle to manage the financial burden of this condition and we are focused on helping by providing affordable solutions. We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations.”

Pegus said Walmart’s version of the drug will expand access to care because it undercuts the typical price and puts analog insulin within reach of more people. 

Walmart’s insulin will cost about $73 for a vial of insulin or around $86 for a package of pre-filled insulin pens. The price difference with branded competitors will be as much as $101 per vial of insulin or up to $251 per pack of prefilled insulin pens, the company said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the fastest-growing chronic disease in the country with about 34 million Americans — 10% of the population — are living with the condition.

Diabetes incidence is about 14% among Walmart shoppers, Warren Moore, Walmart’s vice president of health and wellness, told CNBC.

Over the past 15 years, the cost of insulin has nearly tripled according to the Endocrine Society, making it difficult for many patients to afford the medication and effectively manage their disease. 

Research has shown that a lack of transparency in the drug supply chain has made it challenging to identify the root cause of price increases. 

Tracey D. Brown, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, estimated that the medical cost of diabetes is around $9,601 per person annually, according to Walmart's statement.

“We welcome all affordable solutions that make diabetes management more accessible to millions of Americans living with diabetes. We encourage everyone to ask their health care provider questions to better understand what the right and affordable treatment is for their unique medical needs,” Brown added.

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