The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new long-acting form of insulin, which is expected to hit the market in April or May of 2015.

This new insulin is called Toujeo and is manufactured by the French company Sanofi, the same company that sells the widely popular Lantus long-acting insulin. Toujeo provides a more concentrated form of the same active ingredient found in Lantus, insulin glargine, and releases it more gradually into active use in the body.

Toujeo is a once-daily long-acting insulin that can help improve blood sugar control in adults with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The drug will be available in the Toujeo SoloSTAR, which is a disposable pen that contains 450 units of the insulin hormone. Toujeo only needs one third of the injection volume to deliver the same number of insulin units as the Lantus SoloSTAR.

“Sanofi is proud of its long heritage in diabetes and insulin therapies, including Lantus which has supported patients in the management of their diabetes for more than a decade. With the FDA approval of Toujeo, Sanofi builds on its strong legacy and looks forward to bringing a new treatment option to people living with diabetes,” said Pierre Chancel, Senior Vice President of Global Diabetes at Sanofi.

In the path leading to this approval, the efficacy and safety of Toujeo was tested in more than 3,500 adults with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Studies also compared the efficacy of Toujeo against Lantus and found that both drugs demonstrated similar blood sugar control. Some comparisons showed that Toujeo had better results, however. In three studies, patients who used Toujeo had 31 percent fewer low blood sugar incidents than those who were taking Lantus.

In a statement in June 2014, Sanofi claimed that Toujeo “consistently showed significantly fewer low blood sugar events” in diabetics than Lantus in trial results.

However, others aren’t as optimistic about the new drug. Some physicians say the introduction of Toujeo isn’t necessarily a groundbreaking innovation, like Lantus was when it first came to market.

“I don’t think it offers the same level of excitement,” as Lantus, commented Laura Butz, MD, an endocrinology fellow at the University of Michigan. “It does have some benefits and I think in some patients it’s definitely going to be beneficial, like those who tend to have lower blood sugar overnight — but it’s not going to be quite the game-changer.”

Some worry about Toujeo’s cost too.

Sanofi will lose its patent protection for Lantus in 2015, which will allow competitors like Eli Lilly to manufacture biosimilar insulin products. Various experts are concerned that Sanofi is trying to compensate for its potential loss of Lantus sales with its new Toujeo product, and will make the product expensive for insurance providers and patients alike. Some say they’ll stick to Lantus or move to the cheaper biosimilar items if Toujeo proves to be pricey.

Prices for Toujeo will be announced when the drug is launched in the United States during the beginning of the second quarter 2015, so be on the lookout for this drug and talk to your healthcare professional to see if Toujeo is right for your diabetes care.

To learn more about insulin and diabetes:

What You Need to Know About Lantus and Levemir
Understanding Long-Acting vs. Fast-Acting Insulin
New Insulin Combination Helpful In Reducing Low Blood Sugars

Photo Source: Diabetes Mine