Soliqua: A New Injectable Combination Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes
By Ben Pallant
January has been a big month for one of the first type 2 diabetes combination therapies, Sanofi’s Soliqua (or “Suliqua,” as it’s called in Europe). In the span of two weeks, it became available in US pharmacies and was approved by the European Medicines Agency, Europe’s equivalent of the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
The combination therapy is sold in a pen and features a three-to-one mixture of two different drugs, Sanofi’s basal insulin Lantus, and Sanofi/Zealand’s GLP-1 agonist Adlyxin (sold in Europe as Lyxumia). There are many benefits of combining two drugs in one injection. In Soliqua’s case, this has shown positive results like:
Fewer side effects;
Greater A1c reductions than Lantus or Adlyxin/Lyxumia alone;
Fewer gastrointestinal side effects than Adlyxin/Lyxumia alone;
Less weight gain than taking insulin alone;
And no increased risk of hypoglycemia compared to Lantus alone.
This long-awaited combination therapy brings a more effective and convenient medication to people with type 2 diabetes. The basal insulin, Lantus, provides a constant supply of insulin throughout the day, while the GLP-1 agonist, Adlyxin/Lyxumia, stimulates the secretion of insulin and deters the secretion of glucagon to lower blood glucose levels. In this way, the GLP-1 agonist helps manage post-meal blood glucose spikes.
Without insurance, the price of a 300-unit Soliqua pen currently sits at about $127 in the US, on par with existing GLP-1 agonist drugs at about $20 a day. The co-pay for those with insurance will vary depending on the plan. Visit Soliqua’s site to learn about the patient assistance $0 copay program. Fortunately, the combination therapy will require a single copay rather than the two copays that would likely be seen if each drug – basal insulin and a GLP-1 agonist – was taken alone.
Insulin/GLP-1 combination therapies are set to become a very important alternative for those with type 2 diabetes, and it’s worth speaking to your doctor about them if you already take insulin. Note that on the same day that Soliqua became available in US pharmacies, Novo Nordisk’s Xultophy – the combination of the basal insulin Tresiba and GLP-1 agonist Victoza – also received FDA approval. It is expected to become available in the US soon.