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Statement from FDA Commissioner on Insulin Pricing

Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

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Statement from FDA Commissioner on Insulin Pricing

Scott Benner

The FDA has issued a statement intended to spur competition and lower prices. I’ve pulled out and included a few passages that are about insulin. You can read the entire statement as written here.

from FDA.gov

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new actions advancing the agency’s biosimilars policy framework.

There are currently no approved insulin products that can be substituted at the pharmacy level. One reason is that it was hard to bring a substitutable generic insulin to the market under the conventional drug pathway. The biosimilar pathway should make this kind of competition more accessible. Once an interchangeable insulin product is approved and available on the market, it can then be substituted for the reference product at the pharmacy, potentially leading to increased access and significantly lower costs for patients.

We’re going to be monitoring these markets. And we’ll be taking additional actions. We’re actively evaluating how we can make it easier for biosimilar manufacturers to use reference products from outside the U.S., where prices may be cheaper and reference products more accessible.

We’re also releasing today two critical guidance documents that describe how the agency plans to implement Congress’ direction that we transition certain biological products currently approved as drugs under the FD&C Act to be licensed as biologics under the PHSA.

Transitioning these drugs to the PHSA will let them to be treated as biologics under that law. And that means opening them up to competition through the biosimilars pathway. This includes insulin, which has been historically regulated as a drug and not a biologic.

Starting in March 2020, the approved marketing applications for the small subset of “biological products” such as insulin and human growth hormone – which for complex historical reasons were previously generally approved as drugs under section 505 of the FD&C Act – will be deemed to be biologics licenses under section 351 of the PHSA. Sponsors have known about this transition for a decade. They’ve had time to prepare.

As a result, we’ve heard frequent reports of patients rationing insulin, and in some cases dying because they can’t afford the injections they need to survive. These tragic stories aren’t isolated occurrences. And they’re not acceptable for a drug that’s nearly a century old.

Today, we’re laying out our policy on how these products will transition from the drug pathway to the biologics pathway, and in so doing, how we intend to use this new framework to promote competition. The two guidance documents we’re releasing today, one final and one draft, describe how the FDA intends to accomplish the transition of these products under the “Deemed to be a License” provision of the BPCI Act. The final guidance deals with “Interpretation of the ‘Deemed to be a License’ Provision of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009,” finalizes the FDA’s draft guidance from 2016.

We’ve shaped these policies to implement the intent of Congress, and to make sure a few things happen. First, that the anti-evergreening provisions under the biosimilars legislation – meant to prevent sponsors from being able to game the exclusivity provisions to forestall biosimilar entry – will apply to these newly deemed products, including insulin.