Eli Lilly to cut U.S. insulin prices by 70%

STORY: Drugmaker Eli Lilly announced on Wednesday it will slash the price of its most-commonly prescribed insulin products by 70 percent.

The move comes as lawmakers have leveled criticism at pharmaceutical companies over the rising cost of the life-saving diabetes drug.

Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks told CNN, "while we could wait for Congress to act or the healthcare system in general to apply that standard, we're just applying it ourselves."

Democratic lawmakers in August passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a price cap on insulin, but only for elderly Americans enrolled in Medicare. Democrats tried to add a provision extending that cap to the private health insurance market.

Here's Democratic Senator Patty Murray:

"This should not be a hard vote to cast. [Flash] I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle not to remove this provision from the underlying bill."

But Republicans vetoed that provision.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 37 million Americans suffer from the illness, and nearly 8.5 million use insulin.

Eli Lilly said it would cap out-of-pocket costs for patients at $35 per month, and cut the price of its non-branded insulin to $25 a vial.

Prices tracked by the advocacy group Insulin Initiative show drugmakers had previously priced insulin at more than $275 a vial.

Forty-one-year-old diabetic Niketa Calame-Harris spoke to Reuters last summer about her insulin needs, which she estimated cost between $5,000 and $8,000 per year:

"Definitely this life sustaining little vial is going to keep people out of the ER, is going to keep people from dying, because people are dying from not having insulin. [flash] Like, this is not a cold. Like, I have this, I have this condition and it's not going away."

Democratic President Joe Biden, who is widely expected to soon announce a bid for a second term, is already using the price of insulin in political messages.

In Florida last month he accused Republicans of trying to remove price-caps on life-saving drugs:

"If Republican Congress have their way, the power we just gave Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices goes away. The 2,000 dollar a cap next year for prescription drugs goes away. The $35 dollar a month insulin limitation goes away.”

Biden on Wednesday said he welcomed the voluntary price-drop by Lilly and called on other companies to follow its example.