Biosimilars Increase Prices!

Mar 12, 2019 | Biosimilars, Cost Increase, Humira, Price Watch, TNF Inhibitors

Drug Pricing

A study from last year focusing on cost trends for tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after the entry of new competition reveals disturbing trends: new biosimilar competition, long assumed to drive down pricing, does not lower drug costs! In fact, the annual treatment costs of existing medicines rose by $17,390. The study reveals a market failure adding to the inflationary trends in prescription drugs.

The study authors show how prices change after FDA went ahead and approved three new rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatments including:

  • Subcutaneous golimumab (Simponi—approved in 2009)
  • Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia—approved in May 2009)
  • Intravenous golimumab (July 2013)

Taxpayer funds shouldered all of the increases according to this report which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The Center for Biosimilars reported  this study was released just weeks after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched an investigation into prescription drug pricing in the United States, including AbbVie’s Humira and Amgen’s Enbrel. Ms. inserro notes on the report summary If cost trends had not changed after the newer drugs, costs for etanercept, infliximab, and adalimumab in December 2016 would have been 40% to 45% lower than they actually were. Moreover, the increases were carried only by Medicare; patient out-of-pocket spending remained flat. The increases were not offset by manufacturer discounts in the Medicare Part D coverage gap. The report was titled “Assessment of price changes of existing tumor necrosis factor inhibitors after the market entry of competitors” published online February 18, 2018; JAMA


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