Unlike chemically derived drugs, biologics are made from living, biological molecules, such as those found in humans, animals or plants. One of the first biologics was insulin, the diabetes treatment originally derived from the pancreas of cows or pigs. Today, many other biologic medications have been developed and are available to treat autoimmune and metabolic diseases.
There is even a new group of these medications called biosimilars. These molecules have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be very similar in structure and effectiveness to more common biologic medications. Like generic drugs that can replace brand-name ones, biosimilars can replace branded biologic molecules at a lower cost. Only a few are available now, but more are likely in the years ahead.