Dr Ira Klein: Biosimilars and the Cost of Care

Ira Klein, MD, senior director of health care quality strategy for the strategic customer group at Johnson & Johnson Health Care Services, explains how biosimilars will help to control costs.


Do you see biosimilar treatments as playing a role in controlling the cost of care?

I think we’ve already seen biosimilars act as a cost-leveraging mechanism. If you look at the average sales price of original anti—tumor necrosis factor drugs, and you look at the entrance of biosimilars into the marketplace, you can see a definite competitive trend, so there is a lot of competition in this space and that is causing [average sales prices, ASPs] to go down. I think that as the field continues to grow, you’ll see more of this.

I would say that our position is that patients who are on a particular agent should remain on that agent if they’re getting efficacious therapy, because "biosimilar" does not mean "same molecule." For new starts, I think that it should be a level playing field and the competition should be on the basis of both price and service delivery as well as known outcomes. However, I think that on existing therapy, our first duty is to keep the patient safe. But overall, in this field, biosimilars will act in a market force the way other market forces have caused competition to adjust price. We’re seeing that in the marketplace and we think that’s good for the American public.