The man behind Eli Lilly’s parody account, which claimed insulin was free, said Newsweek is “pleasantly surprised”, his tweet sparked a discussion about the cost of the drug.

Sean Morrow, 33, from New York, set Twitter on fire on November 10 with nine words: “We’re happy to announce that insulin is now free.”

For Twitter users who are used to quickly scrolling through their feeds, the verified @EliLillyandCo account may have appeared genuine with a blue check mark.

But it was one of many parody accounts that used Elon Musk’s original $8 Twitter Blue to troll a major company.

Split photo of Sean Morrow and Insulin. Morrow said he was behind the Eli Lilly parody account.
Sean Morrow/Getty

On November 11, Eli Lilly shareholders grimaced as the share price fell from $368.72 to $352.30 within hours of the tweet being shared, although it has since increased.

said tomorrow Newsweek he did not believe his tweet had a direct impact on Eli Lilly’s share price and said, “The stock market is complicated and corporate values ​​go up and down every day for many reasons.

“I didn’t see the tweet related to a temporary relegation at all. Even in the unlikely event that the tweet impacted the stock, it wasn’t because of a scam – no one really believed insulin was free – but because of a bad PR outbreak of predatory price gouging awareness.”

More Perfect Union contributor Morrow first revealed that he was behind the account in a video shared on his work Twitter account on November 22. The seven-minute clip has been viewed more than 590,000 times since it went online.

According to a September 2021 Lilly Investors press release, the price for a Lispro insulin injection was $82.41 for individual vials and $159.12 for a pack of five pens.

The American Diabetes Association said people may need one to four injections a day, depending on the type of diabetes and how severe it is.

In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 37.3 million people in the US had diabetes.

A 2018 study by Imperial College London found that it costs between $2.28 and $6.16 to produce a single vial of insulin.

According GuardianEli Lilly CEO David Ricks later acknowledged that insulin prices could be lower, adding Morrow’s tweet “probably underscores that we have more work to do to bring down the cost of insulin for more people.”

Morrow said it was “a total shock” to see that his tweet, which he retweeted to a small number of followers, received tens of thousands of likes and retweets.

He added: “So I’m obviously pleasantly surprised that this has reignited the insulin pricing discussion – with CEO Eli Lilly admitting that the tweet ‘probably highlights we have more to do to cut costs’ to be the icing on the cake but I had no idea it would go this far.

“That said, the CEO’s comment means little until they do something: wording is key. “Probably emphasizes” lowering “costs”. Not the price – that’s what consumers pay, but the cost – that’s what manufacturers pay to do it, which is a tiny fraction of what uninsured patients pay. They still want to protect their astronomical margins.”

said tomorrow Newsweek Eli Lilly did not contact him after he took responsibility for the tweet.

He said: “I am deeply convinced that no law has been broken and I am deeply convinced of my rights.

“The tweet was clearly satire for a reason no pharmaceutical company would ever want to admit: healthcare in the US is so for-profit that any drug that is free or even cheaper is so ridiculous it must be satire “.

The writer said Musk’s Twitter Blue show showed a “fundamental misunderstanding” about what verification means on the platform, adding: “It’s not a status symbol. It’s about what it says in its name: verification.”

Morrow admitted to being nervous about the direction Twitter is heading, adding: “It may sound silly to miss a website, but Twitter has really been a powerful tool for open source information sharing, community organizing, mutual aid, advocacy and building movements . This is all at stake and there is no clear alternative yet.”

Newsweek contacted Eli Lilly for comment.

said Dan Ives, a business analyst at Wedbrush Securities Newsweek The Eli Lilly case showed significant flaws in Musk’s Twitter Blue plan, which was used to verify the identities of high-profile users, government departments, corporations, and major charities.

Ives added: “It was another black eye moment for Musk and Twitter that finally highlighted the clear flaws in the hasty verification idea. Warning”.

Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last month and made drastic changes to the social media giant, including mass layoffs.

The billionaire justified Twitter Blue’s $8 subscription fee because the social media platform has not been profitable in the past 10 years.

He wanted to restrict accounts impersonating others that did not include the word “parody” in their bio, and said anyone found violating the rules would be “permanently suspended.”

But Musk has drawn criticism for his tenure on Twitter and has been accused of banning “anti-fascist accounts” while lifting suspensions for conservative users like former president Donald Trump.

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