The Answer to the Drug Pricing Problem in America? "It's Biosimilars," Says Vizient

Vizient, a healthcare performance improvement company, recently released its Drug Price Forecast Highlights biannual report that provides an estimate of the change in the cost of medicines for 2019. 
Samantha DiGrande
August 02, 2018
Vizient, a healthcare performance improvement company, recently released its Drug Price Forecast Highlights biannual report that provides an estimate of the change in the cost of medicines for 2019. 

The projected inflation rate, which is weighted by Vizient member purchases and covers all classes of trade with the exception of 340B purchases, is projected to be 4.92%. This is a slower rate of growth compared with previous Vizient forecasts, such as 7.61% that was projected for 2018.

Over the time period studied, the highest spending based on therapeutic classes was seen in disease-modifying antirheumatic agents (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This class includes key products such as adalimumab, etanercept, and infliximab; all products for which biosimilars have been developed and FDA-approved, however not all are available on the market today.

“Where we need competition the most is in 2 areas: one, [for] drugs that have never had competition; drugs that have been going on for decades without competition. The second area is of high cost drugs. Well, [adalimumab, etanercept, and infliximab] meet both criteria. They have a strong grip on the entire marketplace, and they’re really expensive. That’s what gets us so excited about biosimilars,” said Dan Kistner, PharmD, senior vice president of pharmacy solutions at Vizient in an interview with The Center for Biosimilars®.

In fact, in rheumatoid arthritis, specifically, the report projects an 8.57% increase in the cost of the top 5 branded products in 2019: infliximab, adalimumab, etanercept, abatacept, and certolizumab. 

 “When you look at the [rheumatoid arthritis] market today, the uptake of biosimilars is 3%. It’s just not good enough to make a dent,” said Kistner. When asked if he thought the recent release of the Biosimilar Action Plan would help increase the market share of biosimilars, he said, “Anything that’s going to help those products come to market faster or fight current hurdles that they have–whether that be with reimbursement or therapeutic uptake– we fully support it.”

Competition fuels everything, said Kistner. In looking to address the drug pricing problem in America that has garnered a lot of media attention as of late, Kistner said that the answer could lie in biosimilars creating more competition in the market. “We have a solution to lower drug pricing in this country on the drugs that are the top 10 [most expensive] drugs for the country: it’s biosimilars. We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that we’re limiting any risk or speed bumps in the road in getting them to market.”

 

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