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Pharmacy Update

06-28-18Jonathan Puhl, Pharm. D.

With the advent of so many new generic medications, biosimilars, and formulary changes every year, sometimes it is challenging for providers to select the right medications for patients.We are here to help! One area that we would like to focus on this month is diabetic medications, specifically long-acting insulin.  Within this class, there used to be only one or two medications to choose from, but now there are several.

For the most part these are very similar and there is no real clinical benefit from one to the next. The biggest change in this category is the addition of a biosimilar, insulin glargine (Basaglar). Basaglar was approved almost two years ago and by now most pharmacy benefit managers have added Basaglar to their formulary as either a preferred brand, or one of the preferred long-acting insulins. You might be thinking … isn’t this a generic medication … the answer is yes and no. Since insulin is derived from a biologic source it cannot be categorized as generic medication, but falls into the category of biosimilar. More and more biosimilars will become available across many different disease states in the coming years, and so providers must be cognizant of these new additions and make sure they pick the most appropriate product for patients.

The addition of Basaglar allows for more cost effective treatment of diabetes patients with long acting insulin. Specifically, for Innovation Health and Aetna, the potential cost savings can be substantial. This is not only true for the payor, but also for the member in the long run. Here is a comparison of the available long acting insulins within Aetna formulary:

Color Codes

(red being most expensive)

Medication Name

(all strengths)

Average cost for 30-day supply
               Insulin Glargine (Lantus)Insulin Glargine (Toujeo)

Insulin Detemir (Levemir)

Insulin Degludec (Tresiba)









Insulin Glargine (Basaglar)



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