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Oncology Biosimilars Making a Difference for Patients


Amanda Forys, MSPH: Now moving with this biosimilars market, we as of recently have 9 approved biosimilars. Three of them, we mentioned 2 already, in oncology there’s Zarxio, which was our first biosimilar, that [granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, G-CSF] product for supportive oncology care. That’s been on the market now since 2016.

We do have anti-cancer medications in the pipeline; really, not only is the [Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, BPCIA] pathway new for these manufacturers, but they now have to work through it to get approval. You’ve also got biologics that are going to be losing their exclusivity in the next few years, some of the big ones.

We definitely see a market moving in oncology. Can you talk a little bit about where you see biosimilars playing out in oncology, specific cancers, or any other disease states that you think we should really be on the lookout for these products making a difference for patients?

Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH: So, in the oncology space, we’re excited. There’s a lot going on there. We see the need to bring on some more biosimilars into the market, and lower that cost, as I’m going to continue to say.

We really want biosimilars, and even biologics for other disease conditions, to come onto the market and really look at oncology and see that as a model. We’re seeing psoriasis—we’ve actually seen some great movement there—but we need more innovative therapies there [and] biosimilars there.

We’re looking at lupus, the biologic for lupus is completely disturbing because you have to take other treatments in conjunction with the biologic, and it’s proven to be very ineffective. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis, we would love to see biosimilars in [those] market[s].

Another thing that we would love to see, when you see these newer biologics come onto the market, the first and second generation, we would like to see the prices being lowered at that point. Seeing biosimilars come onto the market, I know there’s such a conversation around exclusivity and patents, but when you have newer biologics come on the market, that’s the conversation for lowering prices for the older therapies. So that’s what we would love to see too.

Amanda Forys, MSPH: And do you think this cost-savings, I know we’re seeing it in oncology, the CAR T-cell therapy is really coming to life, and [it’s] expensive. I mean, you’re taking a patient’s own DNA and making medication tailored to the patient. Do you think that price point and that biosimilar availability could start lowering prices system-wide to make room for therapies that costs a developer a huge amount of money to develop—we know that there is a cost to them to bring them to market and innovation does have a price tag to it—do you see this allowing that to happen more and us maybe potentially projecting to a new level of healthcare?

Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH: Absolutely, and I hope that we continue to move forward, bring more biosimilars to the market, and just see how this innovative therapy is going to change the healthcare system as we know it.

We definitely don’t want to bankrupt manufacturers because we know the costs that come into developing these drugs, but [we] want to make sure that patients can actually access the drug that they’re developing, and we get more manufacturers into that market where there’s some good competition there.

We’re all for any type of innovative and creative way to getting low-cost drugs and effective drugs to patients.

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