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Dr Prerakkumar Parikh Reacts to FDA Approvals for First Neurology, Tocilizumab Biosimilars


Prerakkumar Parikh, PharmD, director of specialty clinical solutions at Magellan Rx Management, reacts to recent FDA approvals for the first natalizumab and tocilizumab biosimilars.

Prerakkumar Parikh, PharmD, director of specialty clinical solutions at Magellan Rx Management, gives insight into the growing world of biosimilars and the role formulary placement plays in biosimilar adoption.

In the second half of 2023, the FDA approved the first natalizumab biosimilar, which is also the first neurology and first biosimilar indicated for multiple sclerosis, as well as the first tocilizumab biosimilar. Additionally, the FDA approved the first subcutaneous infliximab product and the first ustekinumab biosimilar.


From a PBM's perspective, what was your reaction to the FDA approvals of the first MS biosimilar and the first tocilizumab biosimilar?

Yeah, [these are] exciting times as more biosimilars are flowing to the market, especially for newer categories like multiple sclerosis. I'm pretty sure we will see some market shifts happening in that category. Interesting, both [the natalizumab and tocilizumab products] are under the medical benefit right now. So, I think it will probably follow the same success stories of the oncology biosimilars.

Can you explain the role of formulary placement and tiering by PBMs and how these decisions affect the cost-sharing burden for patients who choose biosimilars over reference biologics?

Absolutely. The tiering for some of the biosimilars that have came out are on the specialty tier. So far on the on the pharmacy benefit side, we are seeing the adalimumab biosimilar on that specialty tier along with the brand name product, Humira. So, what that will do is it will allow for access. At the same time, if you have a low-WAC [wholesale acquisition cost] biosimilar at the same level as Humira and if a patient is paying a percentage co-insurance on that specialty tier, a low-WAC biosimilar is going to reduce that cost for the patient as well.

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