Part 2: Chad Pettit on “Head-to-Head” Biologics Competition

October 29, 2020

Chad Pettit, executive director of marketing and team leader for global biosimilar launches at Amgen, discusses the potential for a level playing field for biosimilars and reference products.

To watch part 1 of this interview, click here.

The Center for Biosimilars® (CfB): Hello, I'm Matthew Gavidia. Today on the MJH Life Sciences™ Medical World News, The Center for Biosimilars® is pleased to welcome Chad Pettit, executive director of Marketing and Global Biosimilars commercial lead for Amgen.

Follow-on products that have been developed and marketed by originator companies threaten to coopt a large chunk of business from biosimilars. What is your take on whether this is a healthy market activity vs depriving health care consumers of lower-cost care?

Pettit: I believe that innovation should be encouraged regardless of where it comes from. Innovation creates more treatment options for patients. It allows for competition across a class of medicines, and the more, the better. When you look at innovation in the class and then you look at biosimilars coming into the marketplace and creating competition, that's really good news for patients. It's really good news for the health care system, in terms of the cost savings that can be achieved via the sustainability it produces over the long term.

CfB: Although biosimilars are launching at lower WAC [wholesale acquisition price] and ASP [average sales price] to reference products, are we seeing sufficient biosimilar penetration in the marketplace? Why or why not?

Pettit: Yeah, we're seeing manufacturers launch [biosimilars] at WAC that is generally 15% to 37% lower than the reference product. And competition is also resulting in lower [ASP] for both the reference product and biosimilars, which leads to this additional savings. So, I would look at the cost savings that are resulting through competition on price, as well as the uptake that we're seeing with biosimilars. In totality, that creates significant cost savings for the system.

CfB: Can you compare the growth trajectories of filgrastim and infliximab biosimilars, and discuss why there's so much divergence between the two?

Pettit: So, if you look at supportive care, it's the most mature US [drug] category. The first biosimilar that came into the marketplace was a biosimilar filgrastim [Zarxio]. And I think there's really good insights in terms of how biosimilars and the reference products change over time and gain share over a period of time, and in that case, gaining over 70% market share over 5 years. If you look at inflammation, 3 of the top 6 best-selling biologics are anti-inflammatories.

So, it's an important question in terms of infliximab, which is the third best-selling anti-inflammatory. We believe that the competition in that marketplace will lead to significant cost savings. And if you look at the bigger picture and compare the cost savings that Europe has seen with infliximab versus the cost savings that the United States has seen with infliximab so far, the totality of cost savings in the United States actually exceeds the totality of savings in Europe. And so, I would say that we're on track. Every class is going to have different levels of uptake. But overall, we're really seeing a marketplace that is taking off.

CfB: Can you discuss one or two reference products for which ongoing biosimilar competition is likely to be impressive in the coming years?

Pettit: Well, we've just launched 2 biosimilar oncology therapeutics, and the story's not over on those. And that's really starting to play out, and we've been very pleased to see commercial payers put the tools in place that they have and our ability to compete in the marketplace. We've seen really good market share for those products. Of course, the big one that's coming is adalimumab. That's exciting. It's the number 1 selling biologic in the marketplace and Amgen has a biosimilar adalimumab. We're excited about that marketplace.

CfB: How widespread is this trend of health plans and PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers], replacing reference products with biosimilars on formulary or making biosimilars preferred? Do you have confidence that this will continue?

Pettit: US commercial insurers have all the tools that they need to support the adoption of biosimilars. And that ranges from formulary management to value-based programs. Today, we've seen significant savings to Medicare and commercial payers, as prices have declined for both. We're seeing very good uptake rates. And I would just say that all of this together demonstrates that the marketplace is receptive to biosimilars and that stakeholders have confidence that the payers, as well as the providers, are very open to a biosimilar that comes in and competes. That's what we want to see. Our belief is, in terms of US policymakers, the best thing that we can do with biosimilars to achieve long-term cost savings is to nurture a sustainable marketplace with biosimilars by creating effective policies that allow for head-to-head competition between the innovator biologic and biosimilars.

CfB: What more is needed on the payer side to increase access?

Pettit: The payers really have all the tools that they need. If anything, what's needed is continued education–education that is scientifically accurate and creates the confidence that providers and patients need to adopt biosimilars.

CfB: And lastly, what will be the future key drivers of biosimilar uptake? Will the 2019 Senate bill (The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act) have a substantial impact?

Pettit: If you look at the big picture of the US health care system, what we need in the long term is a sustainable marketplace. We need a marketplace that creates a foundation that includes intellectual property, to allow for the risk and the investment in innovative medicine. It's that burden of the disease that's really the cost in the health-care system. And then, [we also need to] create a level playing field and have appropriate regulatory standards that allow for investment in biosimilars, which creates cost savings that allow for sustainability in the long term.

Amgen made a decision in 2010 to invest in and to develop a portfolio of biosimilars, and if we look back, it was really just the right thing to do. As we stand here in 2020, facing a global pandemic that's putting tremendous pressure on patients, policymakers, hospitals, and physicians, in terms of financial burden, here we are with this really strong portfolio of biosimilars and a broader marketplace of competitors who come into the marketplace. Our belief is that we can bring reliably supplied high quality biosimilars and help alleviate some of this financial burden that that we're all facing. So, we're very optimistic and I believe that there's a tremendous amount of hope that biosimilars provide now, in the immediate term with the pandemic that we're facing, but also as we look into the future.

CfB: To learn more, visit our website at centerforbiosimilars.com. I'm Matthew Gavidia. Thanks for joining us.


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