The Future of US Biosimilars

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Gillian Woollett, MA, DPhil: If we look to the future for biosimilars in the United States, I would like some conjecture from you all as to what does it mean to have biosimilars available as part of this multisource competitive environment for our health system, for patients, for all of the stakeholders we’re talking about? Why does it matter, Carlos?

Carlos Sattler, MD: I think we’ve already seen the impact of biosimilars in other parts of the world. And again, we always go back to Europe, but Europe has the most experience in both approving and launching these products. In many European markets, we’ve seen the impact of biosimilars, both from an increase in uptake and usage, appropriate usage of biologics in patients who need them, as well as in savings to the healthcare system. We talked earlier about the fact that biosimilars are clinically equivalent, if you may, to the reference products. From a clinical perspective, there’s no difference. The real impact that biosimilars can bring to the marketplace is increased competition, which will lead to decreased prices and overall decreased healthcare costs, that will then liberate some monies to fund innovation—innovative products are coming down the pipeline. I think we have seen that in Europe.

In the United States, it’s a younger market, if you may. A more nascent market. But with the product that was launched 3 years ago, the Sandoz filgrastim product, Zarxio, we’ve already seen an impact on healthcare costs. Just to give you an example, an early adopter of Zarxio was the Yale New Haven system, and they’ve already seen, at a 20% discount, about $400,000 in savings each year in their drug costs.

So we’re already starting to see some impact in the United States. But I think we can look to Europe to see how much of an impact biosimilars have had, both from an increased access perspective as well as a decrease in healthcare costs.


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