Canadian Study Shows Substantial Savings Possible With Use of Biosimilar Filgrastim

December 12, 2019
Kelly Davio

During this week’s annual meeting of American Society of Hematology, researchers from Canada reported that using biosimilar filgrastim could result in substantial savings.

The role of biosimilars in Canadian healthcare systems has been increasingly in the spotlight in recent months, with an advisory council recommending biosimilar use as a way to achieve universal public coverage for pharmaceuticals, but with some patient groups—and reference product sponsors—opposing provincial switching programs that seek to transition patients to biosimilar products.

It is in this milieu that, during this week’s annual meeting of American Society of Hematology, researchers from Canada reported that using biosimilar filgrastim could result in substantial savings. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta, focused on the Health Canada—approved biosimilar Grastofil, made by Apotex, which was introduced in Canada in 2016.

In a retrospective analysis of IQVIA data on Canadian drug purchases from 2016 to 2018, the investigators stratified samples by region, market size, and center type, and calculated cost savings on a quarterly basis by province.

They found that, during the period studied, the biosimilar accounted for 27% of filgrastim purchases, and a total of $62,061,576 (USD $47,127,078) in spending, while the brand-name filgrastim, Neupogen, accounted for $204,152,590 (USD $155,025,310). Biosimilar use therefore generated $13,443,873 (USD $10,208,739) in savings, but could have generated $36,348,476 (USD $27,601,578) had the biosimilar been used in 100% of cases.

The researchers note that the overall percentage of biosimilar filgrastim used in each Canadian province varied widely; market share for the biosimilar was as low as 0.08% in Nova Scotia and as high as 81.62% in Saskatchewan. In the largest Canadian province, Ontario, the biosimilar represented 44.7% of filgrastim use during the study period.

According to the authors, using biosimilars is an opportunity to save money in an overextended healthcare system, and while using Grastofil did generate some savings, increased biosimilar use will produce greater financial benefits.

Reference

Bhimji H, Eurich D, Mansell K, Mansell H. Potential and realized cost savings with the use of the biosimilar Grastofil vs Neupogen. Presented at: The 61th Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology; December 7-10, 2019; Orlando, FL. Abstract 2126.