Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim have launched their biosimilar insulin, called abasaglar, for the UK market. Abasaglar is a biosimilar of Sanofi’s insulin glargine product, Lantus, which achieved $8.43 billion in sales for Sanofi in 2014.

Lilly and Boehringer’s diabetes alliance already has several products available in the UK and globally, had the biosimilar approved by the European Commission in December. Their new product is the first insulin treatment that has been approved through the EMA’s biosimilar pathway.

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. The insulin biosimilar will be made available in a pre-filled pen along with cartridges.

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 biosimilars can be 20-30% cheaper than their reference biological medicines.

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

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