What to know about Semglee

Christopher Fuentes, PharmD Candidate Class of 2022
The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

October 18, 2021

Semglee

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects more than 34 million people in the U.S. In the last 20 years, the number of adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. The cost associated with diabetes can be a significant burden to patients and the overall U.S. health system, which is estimated to cost 327 billion dollars annually.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how the body uses sugar and turns it into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar and goes into the blood. Once the blood sugar rises, it provides signals to the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin allows blood sugar to enter cells and is used as energy.

In diabetes, the body has trouble making enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. As a result, too much blood sugar remains in the blood. This problem can lead to other issues like heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease, and infections.

Types of diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes.

  • Type 1: This is an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks itself and stops insulin production. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.
  • Type 2: In this type of diabetes, the body does not use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar levels at a normal range. This type usually develops over time and is often diagnosed later in life as an adult.
  • Gestational diabetes: This type can develop in pregnant women and typically goes away after birth.

Diabetes treatments

Currently, there are many options for diabetes management, including oral and injectable medications. These options work in different ways to lower your blood sugar. It is common for drugs to be used together to manage your condition better. In type 1, the primary treatment is insulin; however, your provider may also prescribe insulin to treat type 2 diabetes.

Semglee

Semglee (insulin glargine injection) is a new long-acting insulin used to treat type 2 and adult type 1 diabetes. It is a once-daily under the skin injection.

The FDA recently approved this type of insulin as the first substitutable biosimilar insulin. A biosimilar medication is like a generic drug.

In this case, Semglee can substitute for Lantus (insulin glargine). As a result, your pharmacist can switch to this lower-cost medication without having to contact your doctor. Biosimilar drugs closely resemble the reference product, which allows them to be just as safe and effective.

Cost

Semglee was brought to market to help drive insulin costs down. This product will cost 3 times less than the list price of Lantus. Semglee (insulin glargine injection) currently sells for $98.65 per 10ml vial and 147.98 for a box of five prefilled pens.

At this time, it is unknown which insurance companies will cover the cost of Semglee. The manufacture does offer a savings card that could reduce the out-of-pocket cost to as little as $0 per 30-day supply. The FDA cleared this medication in June of 2020, and it has been available since August of 2020.

Future possibilities

The approval of this medication will open the doors to other biosimilar drugs to be made, which will hopefully drive the cost down of medications. Potential future applications for biosimilar medications include cancer, certain skin conditions, and arthritis.  

In the meantime, help is available to make your medications more affordable. Sign up today for a ScriptSave® WellRx prescription discount card to save more on your next pharmacy visit.

 

Resources:

https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/fda-approves-first-interchangeable-biosimilar-insulin-for-diabetes-treatment

https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/cost-diabetes

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html

https://www.semglee.com/en/about-semglee

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-interchangeable-biosimilar-insulin-product-treatment-diabetes

https://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/new-low-cost-semglee-insulin-now-in-us#What-to-know-about-Semglee

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