Today (March 23, 2020) is a historic day and a landmark moment for patients with diabetes and other serious medical conditions, as insulin and certain other biologic drugs transition to a different regulatory pathway. This regulatory transition, mandated by Congress and implemented by the FDA, is incredibly important for patients. For the first time, a pathway will be open for products that are proposed as biosimilar to, or interchangeable with, the transitioned products. The availability of safe and effective biosimilar and interchangeable versions of these treatments, including insulin, is expected to increase patient access, adding more choices and potentially reducing costs of these vital therapies.
Biologic drugs, including insulin, treat some of the most serious diseases and conditions. The drugs transitioning today are used in the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of many of these conditions, including diabetes, respiratory distress syndrome, fertility conditions, Cushing’s syndrome, deep vein thrombosis, Gaucher disease and many more. But these life-saving drugs often also contribute significantly to drug costs. Historically, it was more difficult to develop generic versions of these drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act due to scientific challenges and limitations on the scope of data that can be relied upon in a generic drug application. This framework contributed to limited competition for these drugs, resulting in fewer choices and higher prices for patients. Today’s transition opens a new pathway for manufacturers to seek FDA approval of and bring biosimilar and interchangeable versions of insulin and other transitioning products to market, facilitating greater competition.
Approved biosimilars will be able to come to market, where there is incredible potential to reduce health care costs, as has been seen with increased generic drug offerings. On the generic drugs side, we know from an FDA analysis that even with one generic on the market, prices are 31 to 39% lower than before the generic competition. Similarly, 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.
Today is a milestone for the future of insulin and other important treatments – potentially a new era of proposed biosimilar and interchangeable insulin products. We expect this regulatory transition to enable a vibrant competitive market for transitioning products, ultimately empowering patients by increasing choices and potentially lowering prices of safe, effective, high-quality medications.