According to weekly The Economist, biosimilars could become a key to address high healthcare prices in the US, where less than 2% of the population can afford the most advanced and effective therapies, yet such treatments account for 35% of the country’s total health spending.
Biosimilars are drugs acting like original drugs, yet they are more affordable. The first biosimilars were approved in Europe in 2004 and in the US in 2010. The most representative example of their success is provided by Humira, the drug for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease sold by AbbVie and delivering approximately $20bn per year–revenues making it the best-sold drug in the world. Such sales volume has sparked interest among biosimilar makers, indeed as many as 5 biosimilars to Humira have been approved, three of which already are on sale, the most famous being Amjevita, developed by competitor Amgen. AbbVie’s management has stated in a recent press release that competition from biosimilars in Europe has forced the company to significantly reduce Humira’s price, as biosimilars to it are now sold at as little as 20% its price.
Another case is Neulasta, Amgen’s cancer drug selling $3.7bn pa: its biosimilar, developed by California-based Coherus BioSciences, was launched few days ago.
According to McKinsey consulting’s managers, the biosimilar market is bound to dramatic growth–sales will rise from the current $5bn to $15bn before 2020, which could result in at least $54bn savings for the US healthcare system.
(Source The Economist)