Biosimilar Price Wars: Pfizer's Biosimilar to Remicade Will Be Cheaper

October 18, 2016

Pfizer's biosimilar to Remicade is expected to be available in pharmacies by the end of November.

Just the second biosimilar to launch in the United States, Pfizer has said that Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb)—biosimilar to Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade (infliximab)—will cost 15% less than the list price of the reference product. In an associated press release, the company announced that the drug will be available to US wholesalers in late November.

Inflectra was approved early this year for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriatic arthritis, and plaque psoriasis. A single dose of Remicade can cost anywhere between $1300 and $2500 without insurance, depending on a variety of factors such as the person’s weight, the immune disorder being treated, and whether it is an active treatment or a maintenance dose. Pfizer’s pricing, however, does not consider discounts to health plans, distributors, or other purchasing organizations.

“By introducing Inflectra to the US marketplace, Pfizer is helping customers access an additional high-quality treatment option that promises greater savings for the healthcare system,” Diem Nguyen, regional president North America, Pfizer Essential Health Business, said in a statement. “We are proud of our global leadership in biosimilars, and will continue our efforts to advance a sustainable, competitive marketplace for these therapies to deliver a high quality, consistent supply of product and long-term savings and value for patients and physicians.”

In reaction to this announcement, J&J said in a statement that it will compete with the price of Inflectra “through a variety of innovative contracting options, discounts and rebates to payers, providers, and pharmacy benefit managers.” In an e-mail to Reuters, J&J said that this would be an “at-risk launch” considering its ongoing litigations against Pfzer. If Pfizer is found guilty of having infringed Remicade patents, J&J would be entitled to triple damages.

Biosimilars are still in an infant stage in the US healthcare market, and patients and physicians remain wary about using them. According to a JP Morgan analyst, the 15% discount on Inflectra could attract new patients but may fall short of enticing those on Remicade to switch.