Insulin needed: Diabetes affects 18.9 per cent of the total population in the UAE [Illustrative] Image Credit: Corbis

New York. Eli Lilly & Co. is introducing a new version of insulin at half the cost as drugmakers grapple with growing political criticism over the price of the life-saving treatment for diabetes.

Lilly said Monday it will start selling a lower-price version of its Humalog for $137.35 a vial.

“While this change is a step in the right direction, all of us in the health-care community must do more to fix the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for Americans living with chronic conditions,” Chief Executive Officer David Ricks said in a statement. “We hope our announcement is a catalyst for positive change across the US health-care system.’

Shares of Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s biggest maker of insulin, fell as much as 2.8 per cent after Lilly’s announcement.

Insulin is a focus of the debate over drug prices in the US, as it’s used by millions of people with diabetes. Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt of Sanofi, which also makes diabetes drugs, was among pharma bosses who headed to Washington last month to testify on drug prices.

While this is the first major cut in list prices from a drugmaker, insurers already negotiate discounts for their customers. Patients without insurance or who have to pay a percentage of list prices get hurt by expensive costs.