First Interchangeable Biosimilar Insulin Product Gains FDA Approval
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first interchangeable biosimilar insulin product for the treatment of diabetes. 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. 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.
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