Michael Kolodziej, MD, vice president and chief innovation officer at ADVI Health, Inc, discusses how much anticancer biosimilars will impact the cost of cancer treatment.
Do anticancer biosimilars have a role in bringing down the cost of oncology care?
The role of biosimilars and the cost of cancer care remains to be determined. There is little doubt that the introduction of generics in the small molecules made a tremendous difference in terms of reducing the cost of cancer care. It was counterbalanced by the introduction of predominantly new biologics.
So that was the last 10 years, and now we’re entering a phase where the equivalent of “generic” biologics is starting to make an impact on the market. What we saw in the small-molecule generic was discounts ultimately as high as 80% or 90% as the third or fourth generic drug came to market. It has been argued that we will never see that kind of a discount in the biosimilar market because the compounds are far too complicated to manufacture and the regulatory burden on manufacturers to meet FDA muster is substantially greater, and that’s undoubtedly true.
But let’s remember that if you look at the cost of care over the last 10 years—the rise in the cost of cancer care related to drugs—are actually due to 2 classes of agents, 1 being oral specialty pharmacy agents where the increase is by far the greatest, but the second are the biologics.
So, even a 10% or 15% discount for a biosimilar agent that is embraced by the clinical community could mean millions or even billions of dollars for a payer. So, the answer is yes.
Now the fascinating thing is this week*, Coherus announced they were going to come in at 33% lower than the reference product, which is Neulasta. That has rocked the market a little bit and may wind up being a bellwether for what we’re going to see as we see other biosimilars, including the big therapeutic biosimilars which we’re going to see coming in the next couple of years—biosimilars for Herceptin and Rituxan—we will see.
The answer is it can’t not reduce the cost of care. It will reduce the cost of care. The question is how much.
*as of the date of filming.