Lilly’s attempt at pricing in DTC: tool or going to cause more anger?

  • Lilly has decided to inform patients about the list price for Trulicity on their website.
  • The information may add to patient anger and raise more questions.
  • What makes a drug worth $8000 a year and who get’s the money?

Eli Lilly has decided to include “list price” information for its drug Trulicity. The Trulicity website states “The list price of Trulicity is $730.20 per month, but the amount you pay will largely depend on your prescription drug insurance plan”.  In talking with several industry insiders, they felt that patients are going to use this information as a tool against high drug prices. As one senior drug marketing agency executive told me “so the website says your co-pay may only be $30. Does that mean your insurance company is paying $700? That’s still a lot of money to get angry about”.

Let’s be honest about drug pricing in the U.S., it’s designed to be a complicated as possible and would take a genius to determine who gets what from the sale of any prescription drug. Patients are not only angry about their rising co-pays and deductibles along with rising health insurance costs. Patients may still get upset that Trulicity costs $8400 a year and blame pharma even though Lilly may not be getting that amount because of negotiated discounts with PBM’s.

This morning, both Congress and the President have vowed to do something about drug pricing after the news that prices on over 1000 drugs are going up this year. Sen Sanders even wants to allow patients to import drugs from Canada.

Lilly took a giant big step by including the price of Trulicity on their website but I wonder if they did any research before launching this initiative. Until the media, and politicians, are truthful about our complicated healthcare pricing I’m afraid that programs like Lilly’s are going to be used against them and the industry.

The idea of including drug list pricing in ads was a small band-aid fix for a huge problem: our health care system is out of control and people are angry that their paychecks are getting eaten up by rising insurance costs. I can foresee the day when a politician calls a Lilly executive before Congress and asks why the price of this drug is over $8,000 a year.