Walmart has commenced the sale of private-label analog insulin this week at a deep discount to branded insulin vials and pens, as it seeks to drive growth at its healthcare business.
The product, ReliOn NovoLog, is a rapid-acting analog insulin used to control high blood sugar in adults and children with diabetes. It will require a prescription from a physician.
The supermarket group, which recently raised its full-year profit forecast, said its more than three million customers with diabetes could save between 58% and 75% off the cash price of branded analog insulin products, or up to $101 per branded vial or $251 per package of branded FlexPen.
“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," commented Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president, Walmart Health & Wellness. We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations."
Analog insulin tends to be more effective and easier to administer than the older, human insulin.
Tackling Diabetes In Consumers
About one in 10 Americans have diabetes, or roughly 34 million people. The vast majority have type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition linked to genetics, along with weight gain and inactivity. Diet and exercise can help manage the disease, but some patients also need insulin or other medication.
Alternatively, about 1.2 million people have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that requires lifelong insulin injections after the pancreas stops producing a sufficient amount.
For years, patients, consumer advocates and U.S. lawmakers have complained about the high list prices for insulin and the significant out-of-pocket costs borne by patients.
Walmart, which is working with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, said its products were intended for use by patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Lower Prices For Generic Medicine
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart has for years strategically lowered consumer prices for generic medicines, undercutting branded products sold by other retailers.
In 2006, Walmart began selling some generic drugs for $4 per monthly prescription - a tactic soon adopted by a number of pharmacy operators.
"With ReliOn NovoLog insulin, we’re adding a high-quality medication for diabetes to the already affordable ReliOn line of products and continuing our commitment to improve access and lowering cost of care,” Dr Pegus added.
The retailer has also rolled out COVID-19 vaccination schemes across most of the United States.