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Novo pledges single-digit cap on drug price hikes

Published on 07/12/16 at 10:38am

Novo Nordisk US chief Jakob Riis (pictured) has announced the insulin giant’s commitment to limit its price increases to single-digit percentages per year with immediate effect in a bid to ensure patients can afford their medication.

“We recognise that people with diabetes are finding it harder to pay for their healthcare, including the medicines we make,” he said in a statement on the company’s website. “As a company focused on improving the lives of people with diabetes, this is not acceptable.”

The average price of insulin has increased dramatically in recent years, rising from $231 in 2002 to £736 in 2013.

"While we can debate who pays what in different scenarios,” he continued, “it doesn't change the fact that many patients simply can't afford the medicine they need." As a solution, Riis highlighted the firm’s three primary tenets of this new stance:

  • Transforming the drug pricing system, pledging to simplify the “very complicated” current system through cooperation will all involved to streamline financials such as rebates, discounts, administrative fees, co-pays and deductibles.
  • Creating more pricing predictability to support customer healthcare budgeting by controlling future price increases.
  • Reducing the burden of out-of-pocket costs to patients by continuing to invest and maintain patient assistance programmes and by ensuring availability of lower-cost human insulin as a treatment option.

This makes Novo the second company to outline such a pledge after Allergan delineated its “social contract” with its patients in September. Allergan’s CEO Brent Saunders announced his support of the move via Twitter, saying “Pleased to see Novo taking responsible self regulating pricing actions for patients. Well done!”

Despite the firm’s commitments, Riis acknowledged that, for real change to take place, the industry will have to push in the same direction: “We are poised to do more, but can’t do it alone. We need a partnership approach involving PBMs, insurance companies, employers, patient organisations and policy makers – to help find sustainable solutions.”

Matt Fellows

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