Welcome back to The Poetic Diabetic!
While most topics discussed on this blog tend to err more on the side of personal experiences, today’s blog is a bit of a change of pace! That’s right! Today’s the Poetic Diabetic’s very first interview. I’ve gotten the opportunity to interview the CEO of the insulin biosimilar production company, Ned McCoy from CivicaRx, to discuss Civica’s future production of the first group of biosimilar affordable insulins.
Earlier this year, JDRF announced its support—along with that of other leading peers in the diabetes and advocacy spaces¾ of Civica and has been instrumental to Civica’s progress as it relates to insulin.
The following are the main talking points of my conversation with Mr. McCoy about Civica:
Q: First off, I understand you’re the CEO of Civica. How long have you been CEO? How long have you worked with the company?
A: I joined Civica about four years ago as their Chief Business Development Officer, after working for thirty-two years at Abbott Laboratories. I was promoted to COO last year, before being promoted yet again this summer to President and CEO.
Q: Next, what exactly is Civica, and what do they do?
A: Civica is a non-profit organization focused on ensuring that generic drugs, such as insulin, are as affordable and available as possible. For insulin, we’re currently planning to accomplish this by partnering with biosimilar company GeneSys Biologics to create three biosimilar insulins to sell at a low, sustainable market price. A biosimilar insulin is a kind of insulin that functions exactly the same as a preexisting kind of insulin, with the key difference that the producer is allowed to set its cost.
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about these types of insulin?
A: Indeed! The three insulins that Civica is currently working on include Glargine (biosimilar to Lantus), Lispro (biosimilar to Humalog) and Aspart (biosimilar to Novolog). While we currently don’t have any plans to make any other biosimilar insulins, such as a Fiasp biosimilar, there’s no telling what the future holds. Each of these kinds of insulins will be available in either vial format, or in a box with five pen cartridges.
Q: From what I understand, you’ve also received some aid from the sponsor of this blog, JDRF. Are you able to elaborate on that?
A: JDRF has helped us by providing necessary development and production funds through a grant. Our partnership with them has opened new doors in the field of biosimilar manufacturing. On the topic of partnerships, we’ve also been working with GeneSys Biologics, who’ve assisted us in the research and development of these three insulins.
Q: Now that you mention production, could you share a bit more about the production process? Do you believe Civica will be able to meet demand?
A: We’re currently in the process of building a 140,000 square-foot manufacturing plant in Virginia which’ll allow us to meet insulin demand with ease.
Q: Could you share a bit of information about the pricing strategy for these insulins?
A: Since we aim to sell our medicines at market price, meaning we hope to break-even on all money spent, Civica is making prices as low as we can while still allowing us to economically sustain ourselves. Currently, we plan to sell each vial of insulin for no greater than $30 a vial and no greater than $55 for a box of five pens. Civica doesn’t want to profit at all from the sale of these insulins and is purely concerned with the social equity of affordable and accessible insulin.
Q: How do you think other insulin producers will respond to Civica’s line of products?
A: Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. Civica hopes that we’ll be able to lower prices across the entire market, thus ensuring that our competitors will also provide people living with diabetes with more affordable insulin. We’re entering a very new territory here; the insulin patent just expired a couple of years ago, and Civica will have some of the first biosimilars to hit the market in the history of insulin.
Q: When will Civica’s insulins hit the market? Once they do, where can consumers expect to find them?
A: We plan to offer our insulins to any hospital, retail, and home delivery pharmacy that complies with our listed price recommendation. Once we’re able to procure FDA approval, we believe that we’ll be able to distribute Civica insulins as early as 2024, the same year our manufacturing plant will be fully built.
Overall, my conversation with Mr. McCoy was a very informative one. Personally, I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds for biosimilar insulins. I sincerely hope that the work Civica is doing and JDRF’s continued advocacy efforts will make insulin more affordable for everyone. That’s everything for today! From one diabetic to another, see you later!