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IMS Health Predicts Significant Growth of Biosimilars by 2020

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
According to IMS Health, increased penetration and acceptance of biosimilars in Europe and in the United States can result in $110 billion in total savings to the 2 healthcare systems.
Biosimilars were expected to flood the market in the United States following the approval of Zarxio…but it was not to be. This first biosimilar product took nearly 6 months to reach the market following FDA approval, due to several failed legal efforts by Amgen, the manufacturer of the reference product. However, if IMS Health’s analysis holds true, this is soon to change. The company released a report that predicts increased penetration and acceptance of biosimilars in Europe and in the United States, resulting in $110 billion in total savings to the 2 healthcare systems.

The report, Delivering on the Potential of Biosimilar Medicines: The Role of Functioning Competitive Markets, found that by 2020 biosimilars will compete with their reference biologicals whose current annual sales are about $50 billion. While Europe has already seen widespread use of biosimilars for the past several years, policy and implementation approaches have varied. The report suggests that the United States might need efforts to educate stakeholders as well as offer incentives to boost their uptake.

The following are key findings of the report:
  • Considerable variations across the European Union (EU) in payer policy approaches are limiting the biosimilar opportunity. Payers across Europe have tried different approaches to improve stakeholder acceptance of biosimilars and manufacturer participation in the biosimilar market. However, Germany, according to the report, has been the most successful in stimulating biosimilar prescribing, and Austria has been the least successful.     
  • Biosimilars in the EU and United States may yield total savings of $56-$110 billion by 2020. With 8 widely-prescribed biologicals losing their patent protection by 2020, healthcare systems could realize a 30% reduction per treatment day by using biosimilars.
  • Patient access to biologic treatments has grown by as much as 100% following the availability of biosimilars. This of course is the scenario in Europe, since this class of products is yet to take off in the United States.
  • Intensifying competition and greater choice are expected as new biosimilars reach the market. IMS Health has identified 30 companies that are currently in the forefront in the biosimilars market, pursuing biosimilar products for 16 biologicals; a majority of biosimilars are being developed for infliximab, etanercept, rituximab, and adalimumab. This could translate into improved patient access and greater savings for payers.
  • A balance between price control and ensuring a sustainable, competitive marketplace could help capture the benefit of biosimilars. The report advices payers to broaden their outlook towards biosimilars without focusing on cost-savings alone to make it an attractive investment for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Growth of the biosimilar marketplace, according to IMS Health, will be receive a significant boost via educating patients, physicians, and payers, and by providing incentives to physicians and manufacturers. 

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