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Vizient Report Predicts Over 3% Inflation Rate for Biologics

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Vizient’s Pharmacy Market Outlook report examined the impact that factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the US market introduction of adalimumab biosimilars, will have on drug prices and the utilization of lower-cost biologics.

In its Pharmacy Market Outlook report, Vizient predicted that the price of biologics, after weighting for Vizient’s provider purchases, will experience a 3.05% inflation rate, nearly 3 times higher than the projected inflation rate for nonbiologics.

Vizient also predicted that injectable drugs, a lot of which are biologics, will have a 3.26% inflation rate, over 3 times greater than the 1.07% inflation rate predicted for non-injectable drugs. Overall, drug prices were projected to have a 3.78% inflation rate.

The report attributed inflation to the current geopolitical environment and consumer demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to global drug shortages and rising drug prices. However, Vizient said that it is difficult to identify a single main driver for inflation within the pharmaceutical industry.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen a greater magnitude of higher prices…. Although these values are much lower than the levels seen in the previous decade, the need for vigilance and action around medication use, and increasingly medication reimbursement, should remain a priority consideration for providers,” said Carina Dolan, assistant vice president of clinical oncology, pharmacoeconomics and market insights at Vizient, in a company statement on the report.

The most recent edition of the report provided stakeholders with forecasts and insight into how the pharmaceutical space is expected to develop. The report also comes as the first biosimilar (Amjevita, Amgen) referencing Humira (adalimumab) entered the US market, 1 of 10 adalimumab biosimilars anticipated to launch in 2023.

“As we launch this edition of the Pharmacy Market Outlook, we celebrate the inauguration of the Humira biosimilars era. As we have articulated over the past decade, biosimilars represent the most direct opportunity to lower relative pharmaceutical expenditures and Humira is the most significant of those opportunities…. The significance of this event cannot be overstated, wrote Dan Kistner, PharmD, group senior vice president of pharmacy solutions at Vizient, in the report’s executive overview letter.

Regarding adalimumab, Vizient predicted that adalimumab biosimilar with citrate-free and/or high-concentration formulations will obtain greater market share than other adalimumab products. Additionally, biosimilars offered in auto-injector devices will likely be more popular than biosimilars that are offered in only prefilled syringes. Seven of the 10 adalimumab biosimilars set to enter the US market will have auto-injector devices.

Vizient encouraged pharmacists to work under collaborative practice agreements (CPA) with members to allow for easy transitions from the reference product to biosimilars, especially when patients or their payers have changing drug preferences. Working within CPAs can help decrease workloads for members and help facilitate switches in states where interchangeability is restricted by state laws.

Although only 3 major pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have come out saying that they will cover some adalimumab biosimilars at parity with the reference product, Vizient predicted that the United States will likely have to wait until after July 2023, when most adalimumab biosimilars, particularly the citrate-free and high-concentration options, enter the market to see whether more will follow suit or if they will opt for different coverage strategies.

Vizient also claimed that it is working with professional practices and advocacy organizations to garner attention to biosimilar barriers, such as white bagging, where PBMs require certain high-cost drugs to be shipped from their own specialty pharmacies to practices, where clinicians then administer the drugs to patients. Vizient recommended that pharmacy members should devote resources to engage and educate their senior leadership, finance departments, managed care personnel, and government relations colleagues on white bagging, including how these practices can cause disruptions in care.

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