March 3, 2020
Understanding the Insulin Market
Despite the fact that insulin treatments were first developed almost 100 years ago, the price of insulin continues to rise dramatically. In the first in a series, AAF’s Director of Human Welfare Policy Tara O’Neill Hayes and Margaret Barnhorst examine the elements that shape the insulin market in the United States. A number of factors have combined to keep the price of insulin from dropping — not least of which is that no “generic” insulin competitors have been able to come to market, they write.
Their central points:
- Of the growing diabetic population in the United States, roughly 8.3 million people require insulin to regulate blood glucose levels, and it is estimated that worldwide insulin use will increase 20 percent by the year 2030.
- Competition in the insulin market has been limited for several reasons: Products are not interchangeable, there are essentially only three insulin manufacturers in the U.S. market, and no regulatory pathway has existed to allow biosimilar products to create generic-like competition for insulin.
- By the end of 2020, nearly all existing patents for insulin products will have expired and a regulatory pathway for biosimilar insulin in the United States will be available—changes that should facilitate downward price pressure.