A report from Xcenda showed that biosimilars for 8 blockbuster reference biologics have successfully kept drug prices from increasing by an average of 56%, restoring the possibility that biosimilars could achieve significant discounts despite facing several barriers to uptake.
Market introduction of oncology biosimilars in the United States has prevented the prices of reference products from increasing by an average of 55.8%, giving hope that biosimilars in the United States can help control rising drug prices, according to a recent report from Xcenda and the Biosimilars Forum.
“As Americans recover from the overall economic downturn caused by the pandemic, patients and taxpayers need savings. Access to more-affordable pharmaceutical products, like biosimilars, would be a reprieve from high health care costs,” wrote 3 Xcenda representatives in an opinion piece discussing the report.
Biosimilars have been available in the United States since 2015, with the launch of Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz). However, several barriers have prevented many biosimilars from entering the market, generating uptake, and achieving substantial savings. A previous report from 2020 showed that discounts for oncology biosimilars ranged from 10% to 25%.
Some of the barriers for biosimilars include rigorous submission requirements, patent litigations with reference manufacturers, lack of reimbursement, prior authorizations, step therapy requirements, formulary lists that favor reference products, and lack of interchangeability statuses.
“Without policy solutions, the health care system will continue to miss out on savings from biosimilar competition, which compromises the viability of the biosimilars market in the long term. Worse still, patients won’t benefit from expanded access to more-affordable therapies,” wrote the Xcenda representatives.
Xcenda analyzed the average sales price (ASP) of 8 reference biologics from the 2 years before biosimilars for each reference product entered the market until April 2021.
The report found that biosimilar competition prevented price increases for reference products ranging from 13.3% for Rituxan (reference rituximab) to 150.1% for Remicade (reference infliximab).
In addition, the prices of Avastin (reference bevacizumab), Procrit (reference epoetin alfa), Epogen (reference epoetin alfa), Neupogen (reference filgrastim), Neulasta (reference pegfilgrastim), and Herceptin (reference trastuzumab) would have increased 22.0%, 60.8%, 60.9%, 17.6%, 96.2%, and 25.8% without biosimilar competition, respectively.
Neulasta, an oncology support drug used to prevent febrile neutropenia in patients receiving chemotherapy, would have had an ASP of $5508.76 in April 2021 without the US launches of pegfilgrastim biosimilars, Fulphila, Udenyca, Ziextenzo, and Nyvepria. Instead, the ASP was $2770.70 lower, amounting to $2808.06 instead.
Similarly, infliximab biosimilars prevented the ASP for Remicade, an autoimmune treatment for rheumatic diseases and certain forms of cancer, from reaching $104.91. In April 2021, the ASP was $62.95 lower, amounting to $41.952, thanks to the US launches of Inflectra, Renflexis, and Avsola.
Some recent policy efforts to overcome barriers to biosimilar competition have emerged, including Minnesota’s bid to have biosimilars be covered at parity with reference biologics, Congress’ call for an antitrust investigation into AbbVie over its adalimumab patent thicket, the Supreme Courts ruling securing the biosimilar regulatory pathway stays intact.
“The last 2 years have represented tremendous growth, as more than half of the biosimilars on the market in the United States have launched in the last 18 months. Despite the savings that biosimilars have created, much work is needed to enable more widespread use,” the Xcenda representatives said.
Xcenda and the Biosimilars Forum. Biosimilars Have Significantly Lowered Prices of All Biologics. Biosimilars Forum website. http://biosimilarsforum.org/wp-content/uploads/xcenda_asp_one_pager.pdf. Published June 14, 2021. Accessed June 22, 2021.