Why This Fake Tweet Cost An Insulin Company Billions And Is A Godsend For Diabetics

Soon after the launch of Twitter Blue in late 2022, the platform's verified badge perk was abused quite spectacularly, and one brand that got caught in the impersonation storm was pharma giant Eli Lilly. In November, a Twitter handle called Eli Lilly and Company (@EliLillyandCo) announced, "We are excited to announce insulin is free now." 

The tweet sent ripples throughout the industry, but also ended up wiping billions off Eli Lilly's market cap because it wasn't a real announcement after all. That tweet was the brainchild of Sean Morrow, a writer who purchased a Twitter Blue subscription for an old Twitter account, renamed the handle, and made the hoax insulin announcement.

Morrow, who claims to have been inspired by corporate greed, later explained in a video that insulin pricing was simply ridiculous. It looks like Morrow's actions had the desired effect, to some extent, at least. On March 1, 2023, Eli Lilly announced that it is capping the price of insulin to $35 per month. That's a huge relief for millions of Americans living with diabetes who had to spend hundreds of dollars on insulin doses each month due to the high price of the drug.

The foundation had been set

Now, Morrow's tweet definitely reignited the debate around the issue of insulin accessibility, foundations for a reform had already been laid, and the pressure was already high. "Big Pharma has been unfairly charging people hundreds of dollars, $400 to $500 a month, making record profits," President Biden said in his State of the Union speech a few weeks ago. Congress recently imposed a cap equivalent to Eli Lilly's latest announcement on insulin co-payments for Medicare patients as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

In July 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans of making low-cost insulin after allocating a budget worth $100 million to make the drug more affordable, selling it at near production cost. The Affordable Insulin Now Act also capped the price of insulin access to $35 per month for private health insurance models starting January 1, 2023. Following Eli Lilly's announcement earlier today, President Biden tweeted that "others should follow" in Eli Lilly's footsteps.