French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis’ rapid-acting insulin, Apidra (insulin glulisine), has been launched in the UK for people with diabetes.

The new product’s major selling point is its flexibility: it can be injected shortly before as well as after meals, and has demonstrated a consistent profile in a wide range of individuals, from the lean to the obese, and in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, according to Sanofi. Apidra is designed to work in combination with the company's long-acting insulin, Lantus (insulin glargine), which maintains background insulin levels.

The product is already available in Germany, and should be launched in France and Italy in the coming months and the USA in the first quarter of 2006. Sanofi has forecast that it could achieve annual peak sales in excess of is 400 million euros [[20/04/04a]].

The product has been made available in the UK as a solution for injection in a vial and as a solution for injection in a cartridge for use with the OptiPen Pro 1 injector device. This means the UK presentation of the product is not affected by the legal action against Sanofi brought by Denmark’s Novo Nordisk, which claims the former’s OptiClik injector infringes patents covering Novo’s own FlexPen device [[23/09/05e]]. However, Sanofi has filed for approval to use the OptiClik to deliver Apidra in the USA.