Utah drug company plans to make, sell insulin at affordable prices

Mar 8, 2022, 5:57 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:36 pm

MURRAY, Utah — A Lehi-based drug company plans to manufacture and sell insulin at a price all diabetics can afford. Civica RX aims to make the life-sustaining drug available for as much as 80% lower than the current market price. This is critical for diabetics who may have to choose between rationing their medicine and paying bills.

Civica is a nonprofit, generic drug company founded four years ago by healthcare systems including Intermountain Healthcare. The head of the company believes their move will ultimately drive down the market price of insulin.

More than 58,000 Utahns take insulin every day to manage their Type 1 diabetes, including 16-year-old Katherine Stewart of Highland.

“Insulin is so expensive it’s something that I’ve already started to worry about,” she said today in a press conference at Intermountain Healthcare in Murray.

She knows college will be expensive, and so will living away from home. She’s already worried about the impact of diabetes on her life as she ages.

“How am I supposed to also get the money to buy insulin? It’s super expensive. It just stresses me out and I feel like it shouldn’t be that way,” Katherine said.

Her insulin costs $2000 a month. Her family pays $500 a month after they meet their insurance deductible. Katherine’s mother, Brandi, became an advocate for Utah diabetics, in part, because one in four ration their doses to save money.

“We literally have people dying in our country because they can’t afford the medicine they need to stay alive,” said Brandi Stewart.

The price of insulin has been climbing for a couple of decades.

“The price of insulin has gone up by 11% per year for the last 20 years,” said Dan Liljenquist, the chief strategy officer at Intermountain, and the board chair of Civica.

Katherine Stewart with her mother, Brandi. Katherine Stewart, her mother, Brandi, and Dan Liljenquist

He grew up with three brothers who are Type 1 diabetics. So, he understands the financial challenges that many Utah families face with diabetic patients. This is personal for him.

“Our goal is to return these molecules back in the public domain, and make them as affordable as possible for anybody who needs insulin,” said Liljenquist, Who is also a former state senator.

How will Civica control costs?

“When we manufacture insulin, we’re going put it on the market at a wholesale price that only reflects how much we need to continue to manufacturer. That’s it,” Liljenquist said.

As a nonprofit, there are no shareholders to pay. It’s a nonprofit nobody owns. The insulin will be made at a Civica facility being built in Virginia. The drug won’t be available for two years due to the time it takes to get FDA approval and ramp up production.

So, no immediate cost cut. But, it’s coming.

“It gives me a lot of relief to know that this is going to be so much cheaper for me, and I don’t have this big looming cost I’m going to have to pay for insulin,” said Katherine.

Civica also plans to put what they believe is the fair price of the insulin right on the package, which could challenge other manufacturers to lower their prices.

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Utah drug company plans to make, sell insulin at affordable prices