Walmart is set to launch its own private brand of insulin for people with diabetes as the battle for U.S. prescriptions with pharmacy rivals Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS Health intensifies.
The retail giant has been attempting to expand deeper into pharmacy and outpatient healthcare services.
The move to offer lower-cost analog insulin could tap a market of more than thirty-four million Americans with diabetes.
Walmart earlier this year offered a new drug discount program for employers, is launching its own telehealth services, and has been offering more outpatient care via healthcare "supercenters." It's an upgrade for the retailer that began more than a decade ago when Walmart grabbed the media's attention for rolling out hundreds of generic prescriptions for just $4. Cheap right?
"Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases in the country," Walmart Health & Wellness executive vice president Dr. Cheryl Pegus said.
"We know many people with diabetes struggle to manage the financial burden of this condition, and we are focused on helping by providing affordable solutions. We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations."
Walmart's private ReliOn brand, which includes analog insulin vials for $72.88 and FlexPen at $85.88, will save customers between "58% to 75% off the cash price of branded analog insulin products, which translates to a savings of up to $101 per branded vial or $251 per package of branded FlexPens," the retailer said in an announcement Tuesday.
Insulin is used to control blood sugar levels and is particularly pricey to purchase in the U.S. Studies have even shown that prices are several times greater than those in other countries and so Walmart wants its analog insulin to provide affordable and accessible treatments while improving health equity and outcomes.
"Because we are working directly with the manufacturer, we are able to lower the cost significantly," Pegus said about the new private label ReliOn NovoLog Insulin injection, which is manufactured by insulin maker Novo Nordisk.
The new ReliOn insulin is available in Walmart pharmacies this week and will be available in Sam's Club pharmacies in mid-July, Walmart said. Customers will need a prescription from their physicians in order to request the new product.
Some people are over the moon with the price they could be saving in investing in Walmart's products, while others aren't so sure:
"This is ridiculous. We're the only industrialized nation on earth that doesn't have universal healthcare and now we're supposed to depend on Walmart to manage our blood sugar levels?" one person wrote on Twitter.
This is ridiculous. We're the only industrialized nation on earth that doesn't have universal healthcare and now we're supposed to depend on Walmart to manage our blood sugar levels?
— Mr. Handy🌹 (@MrHandy97218513) June 29, 2021
"Maybe offer your employees a living wage and benefits!!!" another person wrote.
Maybe offer your employees a living wage and benefits!!!
— KR (@Kreidbicloudco1) June 30, 2021
What do you think about Walmart's evolutionary rollout of Insulin?