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August 2, 2021

Around the nation: FDA approves first interchangeable biosimilar drug to treat diabetes

Daily Briefing

    FDA last week approved a biosimilar insulin drug for interchangeable use for those with diabetes, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, the District of Columbia, and Texas.

    • California: Netflix last week said it would require all cast and crew members of U.S. projects to be vaccinated against Covid-19, making it the first major Hollywood studio to do so. The new policy comes after major Hollywood unions and studios earlier this month reached an agreement to allow production companies to enact Covid-19 vaccination mandates. Netflix's policy will require everyone working in "Zone A"—including actors and anyone who routinely has contact with them—to be vaccinated. According to The Hill, exemptions to the mandate will be limited primarily to medical or religious reasons. (Castronuovo, The Hill, 7/29)
    • District of Columbia: FDA last week announced Viatris and Biocon Biologics' biosimilar insulin drug Semglee can be used interchangeably with Sanofi's insulin drug Lantus, one of the best-selling insulin drugs in the world. This decision will allow pharmacists to automatically substitute Semglee for Lantus prescription and brings greater competition into the biologic drugs market, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a statement, Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, said, "This is a momentous day for people who rely daily on insulin for treatment of diabetes, as biosimilar and interchangeable biosimilar products have the potential to greatly reduce healthcare costs." According to Wall Street Journal, the current list price for five Lantus injection pens is $425.31, while Semglee's list price for five pens was $147.98 when it was first approved last year. (Walker, Wall Street Journal, 7/29)
    • Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday issued an executive order banning local government entities—including counties, cities, and school districts—from enacting mask mandates. According to the order, local governments that enact mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000. In addition, the order prohibits government entities from requiring people be vaccinated against Covid-19 and prevents public entities and private entities that receive public funds from requiring proof of vaccination before providing services. (Williams, The Hill, 7/29)

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