Feb 10 U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co has
joined the race to make a cut-price copy of Sanofi's
top-selling insulin treatment Lantus, increasing the long-term
threat to the French company's $7 billion-a-year product.
Merck, which is working with Samsung Bioepis on the project,
said on Monday its version of glargine - the generic name for
Lantus - would soon enter late-stage Phase III studies in type 1
and type 2 diabetes.
Until now, the only company with a copycat version of Lantus
in late-stage clinical development has been Eli Lilly.
"The relevance of today's announcement to Sanofi is the
potential for greater price erosion and market share loss from
two 'generic' Lantus," analysts at Bernstein said in a research
"We currently model 'generic' erosion of Lantus in our
Sanofi model in the mid-2016 timeframe. This erosion could
accelerate more quickly now that a second player is likely to
enter in the 2016 timeframe."
In the case of the Lilly product, Sanofi sued triggering a
30-month stay of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. It could consider the same action with Merck.
Lantus accounts for close to a fifth of Sanofi's total sales
and over a third of its operating profit.