Nonprofit Civica announces plan for affordable insulins

Pending FDA approval, could be available in 2024.

Nonprofit pharmaceutical company Civica Inc. announced a plan to make and market insulins at prices cheaper than those currently available for people with diabetes.

The affordable insulins will benefit people “who have been forced to choose between life-sustaining medicines and living expenses, particularly those uninsured or underinsured who often pay the most out of pocket for their medications,” the Lehi, Utah-based drug maker said in a news release.

“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,” Dan Liljenquist, Civica board chairman, said in the release. “Through mission-driven partnerships, we are choosing to create a new market reality where no one is forced to ration essential diabetes medications.”

Civica announced the company will produce three insulins: glargine, lispro and aspart, biosimilars interchangeable with Lantus, Humalog and Novolog respectively. Each will be available in vials and prefilled pens.

Civica plans to set maximum recommended consumer prices of $30 per vial and $55 for five pen cartridges. The prices represent “a significant discount to prices charged to uninsured individuals today,” according to the company.

The insulins will be made at Civica’s 140,000 square-foot manufacturing plant being built in Petersburg, Virginia, and expected to be operational in early 2024. Contingent on FDA approval, Civica anticipates the first insulin could be available in early 2024.

“More than 8 million Americans rely on insulin to live, but many can’t afford to take the amount they need because of the historically high and prohibitive cost of insulin,” Civica President and CEO Martin VanTrieste said in the release. “We know that to really solve for the insulin cost and access challenges so many Americans face, we need a process – from manufacturing to setting a transparent price – that ultimately lowers the cost of the drug for those living with diabetes. In that spirit, we will ensure patients know where Civica’s low-cost insulin is available.”

As many as one quarter of insulin users skip doses or take less than prescribed amounts due to high costs, according to Civica, which cited a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Missing doses can cause debilitating and preventable illness and the issue disproportionately affects people with diabetes who are Native American, Hispanic or Black, because they are more likely to be uninsured and underinsured, the release said.

Insulin prices became part of President Joe Biden’s 2022 agenda when he mentioned prescription drug costs during his State of the Union Address on March 1, 2022.

The president challenged drug companies to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month, making it affordable for consumers while maintaining a profit for drug makers.