Walmart says diabetes patients can save up to 75% on rapid-acting insulin by purchasing its own brand of the drug, launching this week. What it calls the "first-ever private brand analog insulin"—to be sold at Walmart pharmacies this week and at Sam's Club pharmacies in mid-July—will "revolutionize the access and affordability to diabetes care by offering customers a significant price savings without compromising quality." By Walmart's math, customers with prescriptions who switch from branded products can save between 58% to 75%. "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," Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of Walmart's health and wellness division, says in a Tuesday statement.
Pegus says Walmart worked directly with manufacturer Novo Nordisk to cut costs for its ReliOn brand version of NovoLog. The retailer plans to charge $72.88 for an analog insulin vial and $85.88 for a prefilled insulin pen, per Bloomberg, which notes a single vial from other brands can cost more than $300. CNBC reports Walmart "already sells a low-price version of insulin for about $25 as part of the [ReliOn] line, but that is an older formulation that some doctors and advocates say is not as effective at managing blood sugar swings as newer versions of insulin, called analogs." The cost of insulin nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016, according to the Health Care Cost Institute. One Walmart exec noted that diabetes affects about 14% of Walmart shoppers, slightly up from the overall figure of about 11% of Americans. (Read more Walmart stories.)