The Insulin Affordability Conversation

Since pioneering the manufacturing and distribution of the first animal-based insulin in 1923 to discovering the first biosynthetic form of human insulin, Lilly has been working for over 95 years to develop medicines that save and improve the lives of people with diabetes.

Lilly continues to research, develop and manufacture innovative insulin products and search for new technologies to improve adherence, outcomes and convenience.

We understand the concern about the cost of insulin and want to have a meaningful, accurate dialogue.

See the resources below to better understand the insulin pricing conversation.

  • Are Lilly Insulins Protected by Patents?

    • No insulin manufactured by Lilly is patent protected.
    • The University of Toronto paid the discoverers of insulin $1 for the original patent in 1923. Lilly then paid the university a 5 percent royalty for every vial of animal-source insulin sold until 1967.
    • Like other medical innovations, Lilly’s insulins have been patented – but none is today. In fact, Humalog U100, our most commonly used insulin, lost patent protection in 2014.
  • Is Today's Insulin the Same as 100 Years Ago?

    No, while Lilly began large-scale production of animal-source insulin in 1923, many advancements have been made since then to bring significant improvements to the way diabetes is treated.

    1982: The first biosynthetic human insulin – similar to the natural insulin made by the body – was a significant advance in the treatment of diabetes and ended concerns about whether there would be enough animal insulin to treat the growing epidemic.

    1996: The first rapid-acting insulin analog brought more convenience, post-meal blood glucose control, and lower risk of hypoglycemia for people living with diabetes.

    Today: Lilly offers 21 different insulin treatment options for the millions of people living with diabetes. However, only about half the people living with diabetes and using insulin are able to fully control their condition. That's why we continue to push the boundaries of science to bring better treatments to people with diabetes. In recent years, Lilly has invested over $4 billion on diabetes research and development.
    History of Lilly Insulin Timeline Infographic Download the above infographic.

  • Why Do Only a Few Companies Manufacture Insulin?

    Manufacturing insulin requires deep technical expertise and a significant, ongoing financial commitment.

    • At Lilly, approximately 5,000 highly skilled personnel, such as engineers and other scientists, oversee our insulin manufacturing process around the world, 365 days a year.
    • Our manufacturing facilities in Indianapolis alone are approximately 1 million square feet – the equivalent of 18 football fields.
    • It takes several months, start to finish, to create the insulin that people use today.
    • Lilly has invested more than $1.2 billion since 2012 to expand our insulin manufacturing facilities and ensure that they are state-of-the-art.
  • Why Does Insulin Cost So Much?

    Patients' specific out-of-pocket costs vary significantly depending on numerous factors, most notably the type and terms of their insurance coverage. Changes in the U.S. health care system have led to greater consumer cost-sharing and a growing number of patients exposed to a medicine’s full retail price. This has left many Americans struggling to pay for their medicine. Find more information here.

  • What Help Does Lilly Provide?

    • The Lilly Diabetes Solution Center opened on August 1, 2018. Our solutions are helping more than 10,000 people each month pay significantly less for their Lilly insulin. Currently, approximately 95 percent of people using our rapid-acting insulin pay less than $100 a month.
    • In the past five years, Lilly has donated more than 5.4 million insulin vials and pens to charitable organizations for people in need across the U.S. LDSC Helpline Graphic 8.01.18


Download a copy of the above information.