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Sanofi starts biosimilar insulin trials Posted 10/05/2013

Pharma giant Sanofi confirmed in its 2013 Q1 business report that its biosimilar insulin projects have entered into phase I of clinical development as planned. Sanofi intends to develop these insulin products in order to further enlarge the Sanofi diabetes portfolio and better serve the needs of people with diabetes.

Sanofi’s products will most likely be biosimilars of insulin blockbusters Humalog (insulin lispro) and NovoLog (insulin aspart), from Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. The French drugmaker also makes an originator insulin itself, Lantus (insulin glargine), but does not see any conflict in also making biosimilar insulins, according to Professor Heinze Haenel, Project Director at Sanofi’s Diabetes Division. Lantus had sales of Euros 4.96 billion during 2012. Lantus’ patents expire in 2014 in Europe and the US.

The move into biosimilars is seen as an attempt to broaden its diabetes portfolio and alleviate competition in the insulin field from rivals including Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. Eli Lilly is developing a biosimilar version of Sanofi’s Lantus insulin, and in fact, of the three major players in the insulin market, only Novo Nordisk is still resisting going into biosimilars.

Sanofi is also planning to launch a combination of insulin Lantus and new diabetes treatment Lyxumia (lixisenatide), however, late-stage trials for this combination will not start in 2013 due to problems with the injecting device.

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