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Walmart launches private label insulin brand at steep discounts for diabetes patients

Walmart (WMT) is launching the first-ever and only private brand analog insulin, offering a steep discount on the prescription used to control high blood sugar in millions of diabetes patients.

The new brand, ReliOn NovoLog, includes analog insulin vials retailing for $72.88 and a FlexPen selling for $85.88, translating to savings of 58% and 75%, respectively, on the current cash price of branded insulin products when not using insurance. According to Walmart, that works out to be savings of up to approximately $101 per branded vial of insulin or $251 per package of branded FlexPens.

Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of Walmart health and wellness, called the price of Walmart's private label treatments the "real innovation."

"This price point, we hope, will improve and hopefully revolutionize the accessibility and affordability of insulin," Pegus said on a call.

According to Pegus, Walmart worked directly with Novo Nordisk (NVO) for the manufacturing "to ensure that we passed on any savings by working directly with the manufacturer to our Walmart customers." The executive pointed out that the private brand has the "same product, same quality, same safety, same efficacy" as other analog insulin.

Approximately 34 million Americans live with diabetes, or nearly 10% of the U.S. population. Diabetes is the fastest-growing chronic disease in the U.S.

"We know that of that population, only about 70% of them, of that 34 million, is being treated, and for many of them, they make decisions based on costs," Pegus added.

A Walmart sign is seen inside its department store where the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is available as Walmart and other major U.S. pharmacies take part in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, to increase vaccinations in the U.S. in West Haven, Connecticut, U.S., February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar
A Walmart sign is seen inside its department store REUTERS/Mike Segar

Warren Moore, vice president of health and wellness at Walmart focused on the retailer's health equity work, pointed out that 14% of Walmart's shoppers have diabetes. The Walmart exec noted that the disease disproportionally impacts underserved communities, with Black and Hispanic populations "almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes."

According to Moore, Walmart's expansive retail footprint puts the company "in a unique position to provide health and wellness services to all Americans, especially those who live in medically underserved areas."

Walmart operates more than 4,700 stores across the U.S., with 90% of the population living within 10 miles of a location.

"We often say, unfortunately, that your zip code is more important than your genetic code when it comes to health care in America. Many of the underserved communities where we have a presence struggle today to obtain adequate access to health care, but they do have a Walmart or Sam's Club pharmacy where they can receive diabetes resources, and speak to a pharmacist who understands the needs of the community," Moore added.

The treatments will be available in Walmart stores this week and Sam's Club locations in mid-July.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.