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Next-Generation Diabetes Drug Launches in UK

Next-Generation Diabetes Drug Launches in UK

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Sanofi’s new insulin drug Toujeo has launched in the United Kingdom as the next-gen version of the company’s diabetes drug Lantus.

Lantus (insulin glargine 100units/mL) has seen record sales since its launch in June 2000 but its patent protection expired in February 2015. Along with being three times more concentrated than its predecessor, Toujeo’s (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] 300 units/ml) claim to fame is its ability to reduce the occurrence of hypoglycemia in adults with type 2 diabetes.

According to Melanie Davies, a professor of diabetes medicine at the University of Leicester in the East Midlands in England, “hypoglycemia is one of the most frequent adverse events experienced by people treated with insulin and fear of these events can prevent some patients administering appropriate insulin doses and can even lead to discontinuation of treatment.” She adds, “This new basal insulin is an additional treatment option for doctors to help manage patients who are not currently able to reach optimal glycemic control.”

Dave Williams, medical director for Sanofi UK explained that, “Two thirds of patients using insulin are failing to achieve the NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] target for blood glucose control, leaving them at risk of potentially avoidable complications such as amputation, blindness and renal disease.” Williams went on to say, “We also know the UK has the highest blood glucose threshold for insulin initiation compared to comparable countries and that hypoglycemia has been cited by doctors as a concern if treating more aggressively.”

While sales of the drug in the first half of 2015 totaled €20 million, a ruling by the FDA may adversely affect Toujeo’s sales in the US market. In its approval ruling, the FDA did not find that the drug led to a reduction in the number of cases of hypoglycemia which will prevent Sanofi from marketing the drug with this claim in the US.

Tim Anderson, an analyst for Bernstein calls the current sales of Toujeo “underwhelming” but went on to say that Sanofi anticipates this new diabetes medication will generate a “significant share” of the company’s insulin glargine sales in the UK within three years of its launch.