Why is Lantus so Expensive? And How Can You Save?

Tori Marsh
Tori Marsh, MPH, is on the Research Team at GoodRx, and is the resident expert on drug pricing and savings.
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One of the only ways to treat diabetes type 1 and 2 are through insulin injections, like Lantus (insulin glargine), that help to control blood sugar. Unfortunately, doctors consistently report low levels of adherence to insulins, Lantus included. The main reason? The cost.

Lantus is a prime example of an expensive insulinaveraging around $274 per month, it is unaffordable for many. But GoodRx is here to help.

Here is some information on Lantus, and how you can save

Why are insulins, and Lantus, so expensive?

The case of insulin prices is an interesting one. In the 1920s, insulin was extracted from cattle pancreas, which led to negative reactions in some patients. So, scientists made it better. In the 1970’s a new type of insulin was developed using a technique called recombinant DNA technology. This technique uses human DNA to create the insulin needed and ultimately reduced complications.

But the catch? After the new insulin with human DNA was created, the older and more affordable insulin was taken off the market in the US. Since then, the demand for diabetes medications has increased, and the cost of insulin has skyrocketed, leaving many paying an anywhere from $300-$900 per month for their life-saving injection.

How popular is Lantus?

Lantus is currently the most popular insulin, a class of medications that are used to lower blood sugar and treat diabetes type 1 and 2.

Lantus was developed by Sanofi in 2000, and for many years was one of Sanofi’s top-grossing drugs. However, in recent years, with the development of other insulins, Sanofi has seen a decline in Lantus sales. While we haven’t seen the effects of this decline quite yet, it could mean that Sanofi will need to reduce the price for Lantus to stay competitive. Stay tuned.

Does Lantus have a generic?

Although Sanofi’s patent on Lantus expired in 2015, as of December 2017, Lantus still does not have a generic equivalent. But there is good newsLantus does have a biosimilar, Basaglar.

What’s a biosimilar you ask? Well, without getting too technical, biosimilars are basically the generic product of a biologic. But since these medications are made out of living cells, they are slightly different and aren’t deemed therapeutically equivalent, or interchangeable, by the FDA. For more information about biosimilars, see our previous blog post here.

Lantus or Basaglar?

Basaglar is a biosimilar to Lantus and has the same active ingredientinsulin glargine. But is there a difference between the two?

In short, not really. Like Lantus, Basaglar is a long-acting insulin that generally lasts for about 24 hours. The only big difference is the price, as Basaglar is about 15% less expensive than Lantus.

Are there any other alternatives to Lantus?

There are a couple of other options to Lantus or its biosimilar Basaglar. While the cash prices of these may not significantly less expensive, depending on your insurance coverage, some alternative insulins might be more affordable.

Lantus still works best for me, how can I save?

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