What is biosimilar insulin?

Biosimilar insulin refers to the biological copy of an approved insulin product. One of the best examples is Semglee, which is a copy of Lantus. In terms of its cost, biosimilar products are cheaper compared to their original counterparts.

In understanding biosimilars, it is necessary to learn about biologics first. A biologic drug refers to a medication made from living organisms. It can be classified by its large and complex molecules, which are considered more potent. Some biologics can be in the form of vaccines, cell therapies, and other medications. Ozempic and Lantus are two popular examples.

Now, how can biosimilars become applicable today?

If the patent of a certain biologic drug expires, its biosimilar version can be approved by the FDA and gets introduced into the market. This is how biosimilar insulin becomes available in pharmacies and various drugstores worldwide.

Reports suggest that only a few new insulin products have infiltrated the market. It means that there may be many insulin products that have been rejected for retail. However, as the patent for some insulin products expire, there will be more options for people with diabetes to manage their condition better. Additionally, the affordability of biosimilar insulins can make it more accessible to common people.

Is biosimilar insulin different from a generic version?

Yes. A biosimilar insulin is different from a generic version of a branded insulin medication. How? A generic medicine is the exact copy of an FDA-approved drug. If a drug’s patent expires, other pharmaceuticals or manufacturers can produce an unbranded replica of the same drug. This is how they are called generics. If differentiated between biologics, generics use small-molecule drugs compared to biologics’ large and complex components.

In terms of cost, biosimilar insulin and generics are cheaper. That is why people who have concerns about their insulin cost are advised to ask for alternatives. These alternatives can only come in between biosimilar and authorized generic insulins.

List of Biosimilar Insulin

The following is the list of biosimilar insulins approved by the Food and Drug Administration:

Biosimilar NameReference Insulin/Product
RezvoglarLantus (insulin glargine)
SemgleeLantus (Insulin glargine)
BasaglarLantus (Insulin glargine)
AdmelogHumalog (insulin lispro)
TruapiNovoRapid (insulin aspart)