Media Release | 14 December 2016 | Download PDF

Insulin Discounts Lower Price Burden for Americans, but Insulin Still Not Affordable Worldwide

AMSTERDAM— Researchers conducting a global study into the barriers to insulin access call on Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi to lower prices for all types of insulin worldwide and for greater transparency of actual prices paid for insulin.

The call follows an acknowledgement by Eli Lilly yesterday that a price burden exists for many insulin users in the United States.

“While we are glad to hear an acknowledgement by a pharmaceutical company that insulin must be more affordable, the evidence we are gathering shows that many insulin users in low- and middle income countries simply cannot access the insulin they need,” said Margaret Ewen, co lead of the Addressing the Challenge and Constraints of Insulin Sources and Supply (ACCISS) Study.

In a soon to be released report, the ACCISS Study found that across 14 low- and middle-income countries, a person on a low wage had to pay, on average, 12 days’ wages to buy 10 ml of rapid-acting insulin (for example, Humalog, Novolog and Apidra) in a private pharmacy. The affordability of this insulin ranged up to 50 days’ wages in Ethiopia. Lower-priced short-acting human insulin was also unaffordable, costing a person an average of five days’ wages per 10ml.

While acknowledging that Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have both indicated a need to transform the complex pricing system, David Beran, study co-lead from the University of Geneva, stated that, “Critical to improving insulin affordability is full transparency of actual insulin prices paid by governments, insurers, and insulin users in all countries around the world. This is not only the responsibility of the pharmaceutical industry, but also governments, intermediaries in the insulin supply chain, and civil society.”

Insulin is essential for the survival of people living with type 1 diabetes and for the better management of many living with type 2 diabetes. The ACCISS study calls on Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and Sanofi to lower the price of insulins worldwide to ensure that this life-saving medicine is affordable for all. Globally approximately 100 million people need access to insulin for better health outcomes, but half of them face significant barriers in accessing insulin.

Background information for journalists:
The innovative global study, Addressing the Challenge and Constraints of Insulin Sources and Supply (ACCISS), sets out to identify the causes of poor availability and high insulin prices and develop policies and interventions to improve access to this essential medicine, particularly in the world’s most under-served regions. The three-year study involves a unique group of leading international experts as members of the study’s advisory and technical groups. ACCISS is co-led by Margaret Ewen at Health Action International, David Beran from Geneva University Hospitals and the University of Geneva, and Richard Laing from Boston University School of Public Health. To learn more about our findings, please visit our website:

For interview requests and further information, please contact:
James Still
Communications Advisor
Health Action International
Tel: +31 20 412 4523

Health Action International is the only non-governmental organisation entirely dedicated to strengthening pharmaceutical policy to improve public health. Our staff and global network of members have expertise in virtually all areas of medicines policy, including the price, availability and affordability of medicines, clinical data transparency, intellectual property and pharmaceutical marketing. We pursue advocacy at the patient level and up to the highest levels of government through our ‘official relations’ status with the World Health Organization and respected relationship with the European Medicines Agency. We are financially independent from the pharmaceutical industry.