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Semglee launched in 2 versions by Viatris

Semglee, a historically interchangeable insulin biosimilar developed by Biocon and Viatris, has been commercialized. The drug, which is based on Sanofi’s blockbuster diabetes medication Lantus, will be available in both branded and unbranded versions, with either version being able to be used in place of Sanofi’s medicines at the pharmacy counter. To gain market share, the corporation is employing an unorthodox pricing strategy.

According to Fierce Pharma, the unbranded version, named insulin glargine, has a wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of $147.98 for a package of five 3-ml pens. A business spokesperson said that the price is 65 percent less than Lantus’ list price and is the lowest WAC for any insulin glargine pen on the market to date. Meanwhile, brand-name Semglee has a WAC of $404.04 for a set of five 3-ml pens.

That version is just marginally less expensive than Lantus, which lists for $425.31 for five pens. By offering two versions of the same product, Viatris gives payers the choice of choosing between a high-cost, high-rebate product and one with a lower cost and lower rebate, according to Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal. With its fast-acting insulins, Eli Lilly is already attempting to target both areas of the diabetic market, according to Gal. However, he went on to say that it’s “mainly the high-price/high-rebate stuff” that’s selling.

In 2020, Viatris released a non-interchangeable Semglee at $99 WAC, a significant decrease from Lantus’ $284 WAC. However, when Semglee was awarded the historic interchangeability tag in July, Viatris increased the WAC by 300 percent to $279. The price increase corresponded with discussions regarding the possibility of using interchangeable biosims to save money for patients. According to the team, Viatris has made its drug more appealing to pharmacy benefit managers by raising the WAC and “discounting beyond Lantus to an even lower net” price.

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