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The drugmaker Eli Lilly will begin selling a cheaper version of its most popular insulin, Humalog, in an effort to head off criticism about the rising costs of prescription drugs, the company said Monday.

Lilly will begin selling an “authorized generic” of Humalog 100 for $137.35 per vial, a 50 percent discount off the list price. An authorized generic means that, except for the label, it is identical to the brand-name drug and manufactured in the same facilities. The new product, which the company said would be made available as quickly as possible, will be called Insulin Lispro and will be sold through a Lilly subsidiary, ImClone Systems.

“There are clearly patients who, despite many best efforts, are struggling to afford their insulin,” David Ricks, the chief executive of Lilly, said in an interview Friday. “This is a step we can take to close part of that remaining gap.”

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