Goodbye Semglee

A long-acting insulin that almost everyone (in the Australian T1 diabetes world anyway) knows of is “Lantus”, even though it was replaced by the identical Optisulin 2 years ago. It took a while to be phased out.

A few months prior (back in October 2019) I reported the arrival of “Semglee”. This is marketed by Mylan, but is the same drug as Lantus/Optisulin. It’s only available in pre-filled pens.

But now Semglee is going away. As of February 2022 doctors will no longer be able to write PBS prescriptions for it, although the system allows existing scripts (which can last 12 months) to continue to be filled. But as it’s interchangeable with Optisulin when dispensing, I won’t be surprised if supply disappears fairly quickly. Any new prescriptions would simply be made out for Optisulin.

Competition

When new insulins are produced they’re protected by patents (usually for 20 years?) and only the original company can make them. But eventually those patents expire, and the market opens up a bit. Competition is generally a good thing from the user perspective, although obviously it doesn’t make the manufacturers happy.

Clones

With Lantus (insulin glargine) once Sanofi’s patent expired we saw the introduction of Semglee (and Lilly’s Basaglar overseas). Due to the price pressures of the competitors Sanofi replaced Lantus with the cheaper Optisulin.
We haven’t seen Basaglar in Australia, and now the Semglee experiment seems to be over.

Meanwhile, Sanofi’s Truvelog (a clone of NovoRapid) is applying for PBS listing. We’ll see what happens there. There’s no sign in Australia of their Admelog (a Humalog clone) yet.

Developments

With the expiration of NovoRapid’s patent Novo introduced Fiasp, and with Humalog’s patent expiration Lilly produced Lyumjev (which is not yet available in Australia). With long-acting insulins, the expiration of Lantus’ patent led to the introduction of the longer-acting Toujeo, and with Novo’s Levemir it led to Tresiba (which unfortunately is only available in Australia as part of the pre-mixed Ryzodeg).

So at least on that side patent expiry does seem to be helping prod improvements that eventually filter down to us.

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