Oct 20 (Reuters) - Cigna Corp's pharmacy benefit unit
said on Wednesday it will prefer Viatris Inc and Biocon
Biologics Ltd's insulin drug Semglee, a cheaper
alternative to Sanofi SA's Lantus, on the list of
medicines it reimburses on behalf of health insurers.
The unit, Express Scripts, said it expects cost savings of
$20 million in 2022 by preferring the Semglee injection.
Drugmakers such as Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo
Nordisk have been under pressure to make their
insulin products more affordable amid heavy criticism from
lawmakers and patients in a country with a diabetes problem.
One in 10 Americans, or 34 million people, have diabetes,
and researchers have found https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/diabetes-surges-among-american-youth-study-shows-2021-08-24
significant increases in the disease among both sexes and
across racial and ethnic groups.
Semglee won U.S. approval in July as a biosimilar that can
be used instead of Lantus without a physician's intervention.
Sales of Lantus, once Sanofi's top insulin product, have
declined since its U.S. patent expired in 2015.
Biosimilars, cheaper copies of high-priced drugs, can help
reduce costs, both through direct savings and competition that
encourages lower prices, Express Scripts said.
Pharmacy benefit managers such as Express Scripts and CVS
Health Corp help health insurers negotiate better prices
from drugmakers and also draw up "formularies", or lists of
drugs reimbursed by the insurers they work for.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by