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Home > Knowledge & support > About type 1 diabetes > Treatments for type 1 diabetes > Biosimilars
‘Biosimilar’ is a term used to describe a medicine that is designed to be very similar to existing ‘biologic’ medicines. All insulins are biologic medicines. Some of the analogue insulins above will soon come off patent which means other companies are then free to produce ‘biosimilar’ versions of them. You can read more about biosimilars in our FAQ document.
When a biologic drug comes off patent, the door is open for other companies to produce similar drugs – biosimilars. This is a similar process to when small molecule drugs come off patent and companies start to produce ‘generic’ versions of the same drug. However, because biologic drugs are more complex, producing identical ‘generic’ biologic drugs is impossible, which means that the new term biosimilar is used instead.
‘Biosimilar’ versions of different sorts of insulin are likely to become available soon, as the exclusive patents on some forms of insulin are about to expire.
It means that your doctor has more types of insulin to offer you. You or your doctor may think it is a good idea to try a new biosimilar insulin. Doctors should always prescribe insulins by their brand name to ensure that the correct insulin is given – biosimilars are no exception. There should be no clinically significant differences between the original insulin and its biosimilar, and the drugs will only be approved by regulators on this basis. As with any change in your treatment regimen, it should be something that you and your health team agree on, and you will need to pay especially close attention to your glucose levels for a few weeks to make sure the change is not disrupting your glucose control. If you experience any difficulties using the new insulin, your doctor can switch your prescription back to your usual insulin.
No. This area of research is well-funded by the pharmaceutical industry, so we can prioritise funding other areas of type 1 diabetes research.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutic Industry a has produced a helpful guide to biologic and biosimiliar medicines.
Find out about all about the different types of insulin and how to get it into your body.
Around 90% of people with type 1 in the UK inject their insulin through multiple daily injections. Learn more about injections, pens and needles.
Islet transplants take insulin-producing islets from someone who doesn’t have type 1 diabetes and put them into someone who does.