July 2, 2024

Big news continues in the GLP-1 space. The first generic medication of a GLP-1 launched in June 2024. With GLP-1s busting budgets across the country, this may seem like welcome news.  But the promise of savings is not a given. While generic medications coming to market typically offer savings relief, it isn’t as straightforward in this case. So, let’s examine liraglutide, the first generic to Victoza.

Competition Drives Savings

On June 24, an authorized generic of Victoza was launched. Authorized generics aren’t the same as typical generics. The brand name manufacturer has allowed the early entry of a generic in the market. In this case, liraglutide is still being manufactured by the same manufacturer of Victoza but then marketed and released by a second manufacturer.

While this process has led to some savings in the list price, until additional generic products are released, the complexity of PBM contract designation, rebates and lack of competition is limiting savings greatly. While legal battles continue, it is anticipated that up to 10 additional true generics may come to market in December of 2024. That is when we will be able to better appreciate the savings with this new generic agent.

Utilization Limits

Victoza is one of the least used GLP-1 agents for the treatment of diabetes. When it came to market, it quickly picked up speed, but it is a once-a-day injection. As newer treatments like Ozempic and Mounjaro came to market as weekly injections with larger weight loss promises, Victoza faded into the background.

Today, Victoza only has 4.6% of the GLP-1 market share for diabetes treatment. However, it can still make an impact on the management of diabetes. And it has been proven and approved to reduce cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Indications

While GLP-1s were first used for diabetes management, it is their impact and indication for weight loss that really started the GLP-1 frenzy we see today. Liraglutide is also the active ingredient in Saxenda which is a brand name product approved for weight loss.

The weight loss impact of liraglutide is less than 50% of the other agents on the market. The dosing of liraglutide for weight loss is also higher than the dosing when used for diabetes. The smaller impact and higher dose needs will limit any potential savings when used in the weight loss space at this time.

Despite the barriers in this space, liraglutide is still a great choice for the management of diabetes when it comes to hemoglobin A1c lowering with cardiovascular benefit. Once weekly diabetes agents offer convenience and additional weight loss potential. However, neither of these factors are vital for all patients when it comes to GLP-1 impact on diabetes management.

What is next?

As additional generics hit the market in the next 6-12 months, opportunities exist for savings. However, plan sponsors must be nimble in their approach to take advantage of these savings. They should also work with pharmacy consultants with clinical pharmacists on staff, like those at Innovative Rx Strategies. Please contact us to learn more about how to leverage this breaking news in the GLP-1 space.

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