The new ReliOn insulin is the same medication as the well-known name brand NovoLog version. NovoLog is FDA-approved rapid-acting insulin for both children and adults that are living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This medication is typically taken during mealtime and to correct high blood sugar spikes.
Many people have concerns that the product that Walmart is selling is a lower quality “generic” version of insulin. However, there are no generic insulin products available on the market right now which is one of the reasons why prices are so high for insulin.
The new Walmart version of this insulin is known as ReliOn NovoLog and it is the same drug as the brand name product but with a different name. This means that although this is a “generic brand” there is no difference in the quality of the product overall. Essentially, both the ReliOn NovoLog brand and the NovoLog brand insulins are packaged at the same manufacturer’s facility, but they are labeled differently.
Walmart is selling their product under a private label and so they can set the prices in their own stores. There are a lot of different technicalities and legalities that affect how insulin is sold, but this move is beneficial because it is helping more people get insulin at an affordable cost. Many people in the diabetic community are hoping for more sweeping changes to make healthcare and life-saving medications like insulin affordable for everyone.
So, why is Walmart only coming out with ReliOn insulin now?
Until recently, the Walmart ReliOn insulin was the older, Humalog version of insulin which has major differences compared to the more modern analog insulins, like Novolog. So, Walmart has recently acquired the rights to sell Novolog insulin, which is more efficient and fast-acting than the older version. Now Walmart can sell the new analog insulin at a more affordable price.
To understand this more, let’s explain the difference between Novolog analog and Humalog. There are two main types of name brand insulins on the market: NovoLog and HumaLog. Novolog is the brand version of insulin aspart, and Humalog is the brand version of insulin lispro. While both are fast-acting, they are different. The differences are in: who can take the drug, when they can take the drug and the dose amount.
Novolog is meant for adults and children 2 years old or older who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, adults and most children with type 1 diabetes can take Humalog, but the drug has not been tested on children younger than 3 years old. What’s more, while some adults with type 2 diabetes are prescribed Humalog, children with type 2 diabetes are typically not prescribed Humalog but Novolog.
Another difference is that Novolog can be diluted for a smaller dose, and Novolog works faster than Humalog. Humalog cannot be diluted.
Insulin prices have been a serious concern for many years, but Walmart only recently added analog insulin to their ReliOn program. Unfortunately, some people have even had to resort to rationing out their insulin medication. One reason this took so long is that the regulatory process for FDA approval takes about a year to complete. Regardless, this is an important step for giving people with diabetes another affordable option to get their insulin medication.