Is Sanofi Digging Its Own Grave with Toujeo?

Sanofi has decided not to offer a discount on its new once-daily basal insulin, Toujeo.

According to a FiercePharma article, the French drugmaker is confident enough in Toujeo’s ability to succeed in the insulin marketplace that it doesn’t need to offer an enticing discount to get users of its other basal insulin, Lantus, hooked. In the article, Sanofi Senior VP of Global Diabetes Pierre Chancel says, “Toujeo is an improvement on something already great.”

Lantus is currently the highest-grossing insulin in the world marketplace, and while the hope is that Toujeo can capitalize off the existing drug’s success, the newer insulin has already shown market limitations. Market analysts believe that enthusiasm for Toujeo will be dampened because current Lantus users might not see any significant blood sugar control between the two insulins. Probably the one thing that Toujeo has going for it is improved ability to combat nighttime hypoglycemia, a Bloomberg report stated, but it isn’t even yet approved for patients under 18 years of age.

Sanofi wants to target Toujeo to adults who are newly diagnosed with diabetes, a niche group that makes up just 3% of all diabetic patients in the U.S. If Toujeo is to succeed in the insulin marketplace, Sanofi must reach them before they become familiar with Lantus, and that will require getting to doctors used to prescribing Lantus before they write that first prescription. There is high risk of cannibalizing Lantus sales to move Toujeo, analysts fear.

Sales of Toujeo are projected to be $131 million this year, and $1.7 billion by 2020, which may sound like a lot, but is less-than-pleasing for investors. And with Lantus’ estimated $1.5 billion drop in sales by the end of this year, Sanofi’s marketing strategy may end up costing the company.

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Travis served as a staff writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation in 2015. Previously, he was a staff writer for Insight, a high school newspaper, as well as a copywriter for The Emersonian, Emerson's yearbook.

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