- Amazon on Tuesday added more than 15 new manufacturer-sponsored coupons for insulin brands and diabetes care products to its online pharmacy.
- The additions bring Amazon’s manufacturer coupons that are automatically applied during check-out for eligible customers to 36.
- The new coupons include some of the most commonly prescribed products from drugmakers including Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Sanofi, including insulin vials, pens and continuous glucose monitors, according to a blog post on Amazon’s website.
Insulin has become a flashpoint in the debate over drug pricing, as access to the life-saving medicine is restricted by high list prices.
More than a million Americans rationed their insulin in 2022, according to a recent study.
Other stakeholders in the U.S. healthcare system have been finding creative ways to make insulin more obtainable for patients.
Recently, a number of states have filed lawsuits against pharmacy benefit managers over rising insulin prices, alleging they work with manufacturers to raise costs.
Some states like California are working to develop and manufacture their own biosimilar insulin products. Similarly, Civica, a nonprofit created by health systems to address drug shortages, is working to offer three versions of insulin for no more than $30 a vial. Name-brand versions can cost 10 times that amount.
Health insurer UnitedHealthcare this year started offering insulin at zero cost share for eligible members in its standard insured group plans.
Meanwhile, the Inflation Reduction Act set a $35-a-month cost-sharing limit on insulin for seniors in Medicare. President Joe Biden has pushed Congress to expand that cap to all patients.
Some drugmakers have budged on prices amid the pressure. In March, Eli Lilly said it would lower insulin prices by 70%.
In the blog post, Amazon said the new manufacturer coupons would help patients with diabetes access affordable medication for the condition.
Amazon began automatically applying manufacturer coupons in March for eight brand-name medications treating diabetes, asthma, obesity, emphysema and more.
Drug manufacturers offer coupons for brand name medications to reduce out-of-pocket costs on drugs, which can be prohibitively expensive. But coupons can be hard to find and use — one study cited by Amazon found patients only used the coupons 15% of the time they were available.
Drugmakers argue manufacturer coupons are a valuable financial assistance tool for patients, while insurers say the coupons allow pharmaceutical companies to raise drug prices while easing the burden of price hikes on patients, saddling them with higher costs as a result.
Amazon says its goal in offering the coupons is to increase savings for Amazon Pharmacy users.
The coupons can’t be used in addition to its generics saving program RxPass or the Prime prescription savings benefit. Patients covered under government programs like Medicare or Medicaid aren’t eligible for the coupons, Amazon said.
The ecommerce giant launched Amazon Pharmacy three years ago as an online and transparent marketplace for prescription drugs that allows users to compare their insurance co-pay, the price without insurance or savings through Prime’s prescription savings benefit before paying for medication.