Nina Chavez on Whether Biosimilars Will Offer Cost Savings in Oncology

Nina Chavez, MBA, FACMPE, chief operating officer, New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants, Ltd., discusses if she thinks biosimilars will play a role in lowering costs in coming years.

With the first 2 anticancer biosimilars now on the market and others waiting to enter, do you foresee biosimilars playing a role in lowering costs in the coming years?
I’d like to say yes because you think that competition is a good thing, but in all reality, that’s not been something that we can control. When Neulasta had the biosimilar come out, a lot of payers were like you need to change right away and you need to use Fulphila and you need to use Udenica, and then 6 months later they were like, “Oh no, we want you to go back to using Neulasta,” because now they got a rebate from Neulasta and the Amgen products.

So, we didn’t have control over that, and the same thing with Mvasi—we have some patients that we’re not going to switch patients that are in the middle of therapy. We have some insurances that are saying if you have a prior authorization, you can continue to use it, but if you’re prior authorization expires, you have to change them to the biosimilars. But, Mvasi has not been approved for indications for ovarian cancer. So, even though we might use it for another therapy, we can’t use it in that diagnosis. So, I don’t know.

Also, one of the things that is really interesting is they’re coming out with their own Q-code, their own J code. They’re being marketed like the brand, and they’re not really cheap because they don’t want to disrupt [average sales price] because they had that happen when we had other biosimilars came out. So, I guess it remains to be seen if they’re being treated like a brand drug. Are they going to be just as expensive down the line? I guess we’ll see.
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