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Lilly and Boehringer launch biosimilar insulin in the UK

Published on 26/08/15 at 08:32am
Abasaglar is a biosimilar version of Sanofi's insulin glargine, Lantus

Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim have launched their biosimilar insulin, called abasaglar, for the UK market.

Abasaglar will now challenge the market dominance of Sanofi’s insulin glargine product, Lantus.

Their diabetes alliance, which has several other products already available in the UK and globally, had the copycat version of Sanofi’s best-selling insulin approved by the European Commission in December. Their new product is the first insulin treatment approved through the EMA’s biosimilar pathway.

The partnership’s biosimilar version of Lantus, which achieved $8.43 billion in sales for Sanofi in 2014, will be made available in a pre-filled pen along with cartridges.

Biosimilar medicines are structurally complex compounds that are similar, but not identical, to an already approved biologic medicine (known as the reference medicine). The manufacturing of biological medicines requires precision and expertise to guarantee consistent safety and efficacy.

Jeremy Morgan, vice president, international at Lilly Diabetes, says: “While basal insulin has been a mainstay of diabetes treatment for many years, there are still challenges for patients when it comes to embracing and beginning insulin treatment as part of their daily routine. We provide distinctive resources and tools to help support patients throughout their insulin initiation. This, added to our wealth of experience in diabetes allows us to offer Lilly medicines to a broad spectrum of people with diabetes at most stages of their treatment journey.”

Manufactured by Lilly, the treatment comprises a type of basal insulin intended to provide long-lasting blood sugar control between meals at night.

A 2014 report by industry intelligence firm IMS Health suggested that biosimilars are expected to increase their market share within biopharma from 1% in 2014, to 10% in 2020 – representing an increase from $1.9 billion to around $25 billion. Typically they can be 20-30% cheaper than their reference biological medicines.

Meanwhile another product in the BI-Lilly alliance, Jardiance (empagliflozin), achieved positive top-line results from in a long-term clinical trial investigating cardiovascular outcomes in more than 7,000 adults with type 2 diabetes who were at high risk for cardiovascular events.

The trial met is primary endpoint, which was to demonstrate that Jardiance, when added to standard of care, reduced the risk of either dying from heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.

“The cardiovascular risk reduction Jardiance demonstrated trial is exciting and we look forward to sharing the full results,” says Professor Hans-Juergen Woerle, global vice president of medicine at, Boehringer Ingelheim. “Approximately 50% of deaths in people with type 2 diabetes worldwide are caused by cardiovascular disease. Reducing cardiovascular risk is an essential component of diabetes management.”

The full results will be presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting in September.

Lilian Anekwe

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