TikToker's parody of cheaper insulin comes to fruition


‘Legend’: TikToker parodied pharmaceutical company and said it was lowering the price of insulin—the company actually did it

'I'd like to think the pressure helped.'


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Mar 1, 2023   Updated on Mar 2, 2023, 1:30 pm CST

Amid users trolling Twitter’s new Blue verification initiative in November, journalist Sean Morrow tweeted to impersonate pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and announced that insulin would be “free now.”

On Wednesday, the company announced that it would be capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month—and Morrow celebrated the win on TikTok.

In a TikTok posted on March 1, Morrow (@snmrw) says that he used Twitter Blue “to make a parody account,” and shows a tweet from an official-looking account with the handle @EliLillyAndCo. The company’s real handle is @LillyPad.

The tweet had a lot of people fooled: Eli Lilly company officials “scrambled to contact Twitter representatives and demanded they kill the viral spoof,” the Washington Post reported at the time. Then, the company put an end to all Twitter ad campaigns.

Many people, including President Joe Biden, lauded Eli Lilly’s move to greatly reduce the monthly cost of insulin by 70% in compliance with the Inflation Reduction Act. Morrow is celebrating, too.

“IDK if I can really take credit for this,” Morrow wrote in his video’s caption. “But I’d like to think the pressure helped.”

He wrote, “Good work Lilly!” in his TikTok’s overlay text and encouraged the company to further reduce the cost of insulin. On Wednesday, Morrow’s video had almost 200,000 views on TikTok.

@snmrrw idk if I really can take credit for this but i’d like to think the pressure helped #elililly #insulin #medicareforall #m4a #bigpharma ♬ Make Your Own Kind Of Music – Mama Cass

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Morrow said that Eli Lilly’s announcement was “really good news for a lot of people [who] rely on insulin.”

“It’s exciting,” Morrow told the Daily Dot. “Just for the very fact that it happened and this change was made.”

Regarding his Twitter prank, Morrow—who is a writer for More Perfect Union, an outlet that focuses on corporate accountability—said when he saw Twitter users were making parody accounts for just $8, he wanted to do something “more substantive.”

“I immediately thought a corporate greed angle,” Morrow said. “It really was kind of like an impromptu silly decision.”

He says he watched his parody tweet “blow up”—and that it was certainly worth the cost.

“It’s not really about some silly little tweet,” Morrow said. “[Corporations are] profiting off of us, they rely on us. So if we get mad enough, if we notice that what they’re doing is wrong enough, then we can hopefully make them change their behaviors.”

Though Morrow admits that he minimizes his impact on Eli Lilly’s insulin prices, commenters on his TikTok haven’t. Many are praising him for what he did to pressure the company to lower its insulin prices.

“You have literally done more to help this country than any national politician,” chunkyb3 commented.

“Legend,” @alluringskull wrote.

“YOU ARE OUR HERO,” @anilapioneer commented.

In an interview with CNN, Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks called on other pharmaceutical companies to “take away the affordability challenges” of some current insulin prices.

“We call on everyone to meet us at this point and take this issue away from a disease that’s stressful and difficult to manage already,” Ricks said.

Update 1:30pm CT, March 2: In a statement to the Daily Dot, Eli Lilly’s communications department said the company’s insulin price cap is the result of “years of efforts to close the gaps in the healthcare system to ensure everyone with diabetes has access to insulin.”

“We recognize that there also is an increasing amount of misinformation and confusion around the cost of insulin and resources for people,” the statement said, “which is why we’re doubling down on education as part of this announcement.”

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*First Published: Mar 1, 2023, 6:12 pm CST