Generic insulin. To some, the mere words imply slightly less-than-perfect -- something that a hysterical fishwife or a tobacco auctioneer might buy, but no one else.
But a majority of Americans view generics favorably, so much so that it is estimated that more than half of all prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. are generics. In fact, Express Scripts Inc., the No. 3 U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, estimated that the savings from generics in 2006 alone to total nearly $24.7 billion. The impact on healthcare costs is well-known. According to figures released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), once a second generic version of a drug hits the market, the cost of a drug usually sells for about half the original's price and multiple copies often cost 80% less.
Although the patents for Eli Lilly and Company's Humulin insulin products expired in 2001, and Novo Nordisk's Novolin insulin products expired in 2002, today, more than five years later, Americans are still being denied access to generic insulin formulations.
In this special issue of The Business of Diabetes, I concluded that I could not do adequate justice to this topic in a typical blog posting, so instead, I have prepared a document that you can (and should) download and read here. Be forwarned: it IS a few pages in length, but chances are, you will walk away more informed of this topic than you were before you read it! By the way, I created this graphic myself using a public domain image of an insulin vial from the NIH/NIDDK and a bit of Photoshop Elements, although nothing too extensive (I only started using this software within the last few months). I welcome any comments you care to add, so please drop by once you've read the entire article and let me know what you think!
***** EDITOR'S NOTE: Apparently, I was not alone in my interest in this subject, as Diabetes Self Management published an article on this subject in its December 2006 issue (although my article is much more comprehensive), but I've included links below! *****