Walmart is diving deeper into health care with the launch of a less costly version of a prescription drug that treats a chronic disease affecting about 11% of the U.S. population.
The retail giant will offer an exclusive private-label version of analog insulin under its ReliOn private brand of diabetes products. The new ReliOn NovoLog Insulin will cost $72.88 for a vial and $85.88 for a package of prefilled insulin pens, which translates to an estimated savings of up to $101 per branded vial or $251 per package of branded FlexPens, according to Walmart.
More than 34 million people in the United States — or about 11% of the population — have diabetes, and about 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed every year, according to the American Diabetes Association. The percentage is about 14% among Walmart shoppers. Diabetes often comes with high medical costs, estimated around $9,601 per person per year, according to the ADA.
Walmart already sells a low-price version of insulin as part of its ReliOn line. But it is an older formulation that some doctors and experts say is not as effective at managing blood sugar swings as the newer versions of insulin, which are called analogs.
The new insulin products will be available at Walmart pharmacies starting this week, and in Sam’s Club pharmacies in mid-July.
“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,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice VP, Walmart Health & Wellness. We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations. 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,”
In a conference call, Pegus, said that Walmart worked directly with manufacturer Novo Nordisk to reduce costs.
“This price point, we hope, will improve and hopefully revolutionize the accessibility and affordability of insulin,” she said.