Walmart's ReliOn private brand is bringing cheaper insulin to the US

Walmart has announced a cheaper insulin product that'll provide diabetics with more affordable access to the life-saving substance. According to the company, its ReliOn is the first private brand to launch its own analog insulin, which will be available to purchase in vials and as FlexPens. The company anticipates ReliOn insulin saving diabetics hundreds of dollars monthly.

Insulin is notoriously inexpensive to produce and ridiculously expensive to purchase (in the US, at least). The prohibitive cost has resulted in many people taking risky measures to extend the use of the products they have, such as only taking a partial dose. Some people have died as a consequence of this.

According to Walmart, its new ReliOn private-brand analog insulin will save customers who pay on a cash basis up to around $101/vial and $251 per box of FlexPens, assuming the customer would ordinarily get branded products. The new private label product is made by Novo Nordisk and will be rolling out to Walmart pharmacies starting this week in the US.

As well, Sam's Club pharmacies will introduce the same product starting in the middle of July. The product is intended to control high blood sugar in children and adults who have diabetes — it is, as you'd expect, a prescription-only product. Walmart's product will cost $73/vial and $86 for a package of FlexPens, which are filled with insulin.

The product launch comes amid growing costs for insulin, which many people struggle to afford. A type-1 diabetic who lacks health insurance in the US may have to pay several thousand dollars a year for their insulin needs, a burden that has greatly impacted the lives of many people.

As for Walmart, the ReliOn analog insulin is part of the company's larger push into the healthcare market, joining things like its $4 generic drugs program and an upcoming telehealth service that'll build upon its MeMD acquisition earlier this year.