Sanofi digs in heels, won't discount Lantus insulin successor Toujeo
- Sanofi diabetes chief Pierre Chancel told Bloomberg in an interview over the weekend that the company will not be offering its next-gen long-acting insulin Toujeo at a discount to payers compared to its flagship diabetes blockbuster Lantus.
- Lantus lost its patent exclusivity in February. And while that was expected, it was a hard hit for Sanofi, which enjoyed a staggering $6.7 billion in sales from the insulin in 2014.
- Chancel and Sanofi argue that Toujeo is a strong improvement over an already-strong drug, and that's why the company sees no need to offer it at a comparative discount. Others are not so sure.
Sanofi is facing three major hurdles in its efforts to remain towards the top of the diabetes pack: 1) Lantus generics have already begun eating into that product's sales; 2) The FDA did not validate Sanofi's claim of appreciably greater efficacy compared to Lantus on Toujeo's label (although the EU's EMA did give the company some credit on that front); 3) Several other companies, including insulin titan Novo Nordisk, have their own next-gen insulins inching towards approval and the market.
The combination of these factors underscore a tough marketing landscape for Sanofi. Many analysts don't see a feasible way for the company to recoup a significant portion of Lantus' sales (without simply eating into that product's existing sales) barring significant payer rebates.
But Sanofi isn't budging at this point. "There is no reason to give higher rebates," said Chancel in his interview with Bloomberg. "Toujeo is an improvement on something that is already great. We don’t necessarily need to compare it to Lantus."
The company did get some good news when Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly's long-acting insulin-in-development flopped in a trial. But it may not be so lucky when it comes to Novo's Tresiba, which will be refiled in the U.S. after an initial rejection.
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