Availability of Insulin Products Will Help Increase Access and Potentially Lower the Cost of Insulin for People with Diabetes
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first interchangeable biosimilar insulin product, indicated to improve glycemic control in adults and pediatric patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus and in adults with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) is both biosimilar to, and interchangeable with (can be substituted for), its reference product Lantus (insulin glargine), a long-acting insulin analog. Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) is the first interchangeable biosimilar product approved in the U.S. for the treatment of diabetes. Approval of these insulin products can provide patients with additional safe, high-quality and potentially cost-effective options for treating diabetes.
Biological products include medications for treating many serious illnesses and chronic health conditions, including diabetes. A biosimilar is a biological product that is highly similar to, and has no clinically meaningful differences from, a biological product already approved by the FDA (also called the reference product). This means you can expect the same safety and effectiveness from the biosimilar as you would the reference product.
An interchangeable biosimilar product may be substituted for the reference product without the intervention of the prescriber. The substitution may occur at the pharmacy, a practice commonly called "pharmacy-level substitution" — much like how generic drugs are substituted for brand name drugs, subject to state pharmacy laws, which vary by state. Biosimilar and interchangeable biosimilar products have the potential to reduce health care costs, similar to how generic drugs have reduced costs. Biosimilars marketed in the U.S. typically have launched with initial list prices 15% to 35% lower than comparative list prices of the reference products.
All biological products are approved only after they meet the FDA's rigorous approval standards. The approval of Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) as biosimilar to, and interchangeable with Lantus (insulin glargine), is based on evidence that showed the products are highly similar and that there are no clinically meaningful differences between Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) and Lantus (insulin glargine) in terms of safety, purity and potency (safety and effectiveness). It also showed that Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) can be expected to produce the same clinical result as Lantus (insulin glargine) in any given patient and that the risks in terms of safety or diminished efficacy of switching between Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) and Lantus (insulin glargine) is not greater than the risk of using Lantus (insulin glargine) without such switching.