For over a year now, people in Quebec who are living with type 1 diabetes and who are insured with the RAMQ (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec) can no longer start their treatment using Lantus® (long-acting insulin).
People starting on long-acting insulin are now required to use the generic (or biosimilar) version of Lantus®, called Basaglar®. The generic version of a drug is the same as the original brand-name drug—same active principle and concentration—, but is sold at a lower cost due to its development being much simpler and taking much less time. In this case, the biosimilar version is required to have a similar impact as the original insulin on hemoglobin A1c (A1c, which reflects blood sugar control over the past three months) and on the risk of hypoglycemia.
However, Lantus® is still covered for people who were already using it, with no need to switch to Basaglar®.
The use of Basaglar® and generic drugs is now mandatory for all users in Alberta and British Columbia due to their lower costs.
This means that residents of these two provinces who have type 1 diabetes and who used Lantus® with a pen or a syringe now have to switch to Basaglar®.
They shouldn’t see any impact on their blood sugar, but they’ll have to learn how to use a different pen to inject Basaglar®.
There’s no change yet for Quebec residents who use Lantus® and maintained coverage under the RAMQ, but lower-cost biosimilar insulin is increasingly favoured.
The BETTER registry aims to improve the access of people with type 1 diabetes to treatment and technologies in Quebec. If you or your child are living with type 1 diabetes, tell us what insulin you’re using, and help us help you by signing up for the registry at www.type1better.com.
- Biosimilar drugs, accessed January 13th, 2020. https://www.alberta.ca/biosimilar-drugs.aspx