Report: Biosimilars, specialty drugs inversely impact drug spend

Dive Brief:

  • Biosimilars and specialty drugs will have strong, yet somewhat opposing effects, on global pharmaceutical spending over the next five years, according to a report released earlier this week from life science services provider QuintilesIMS.
  • "Outlook for Global Medicines through 2021" found worldwide spending on medicines will grow to $1.5 trillion in the next half-decade. Spurring that growth are specialty drugs, which QuintilesIMS says will be responsible for 35% of drug spending and more than 50% of new brand spending by 2021.
  • On the other hand, an uptick in patent protection loss among branded pharmaceuticals is expected to stymie the amount of money being shelled out. Biosimilars, products that copy biologics, will have a particularly chilling effect, according to the report, and are expected to whittle down global spending by $143.5 billion.

Dive Insight:

How far reaching biosimilar ripples will be is a bit of a mystery, though. There are currently only two biosimilars that have reached the U.S. market and Pfizer surprised the industry when it priced its Remicade biosimilar Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb) only 15% below its reference product, while traditional generics are priced 80-90% below their branded counterparts. 

The report counted 10 biosimilars slated to reach the U.S. market by 2021, and predicted biologics spending would grow 14-17% if biosimilar interference wasn't factored in, there "are significant uncertainties as many applications are not yet filed, regulatory reviews are not yet a frequent occurrence for FDA or the applicants, and almost all biosimilars will face litigation from originators."

"The impact of biosimilars in the U.S. market could follow a range of scenarios ranging from short-term increases in cost to significant savings," the report added. "In some cases greater use of a molecule which has limited biosimilar cost discounts could increase overall spending for a time, while in other cases deep discounts and wide usage could reduce spending by as much as 60% compared to the original biologic’s spending."

QuintilesIMS had more confidence in specialty medicine forecasts, since those drugs have continuously taken up bigger shares of total pharmaceutical spending for some time. Their share of the pie has gone up 10% over the last decade, and is predicted to hit 35% in the next five years.

Specialty products will see the most play in established markets such as the U.S. and Europe, according to the report. The drugs will take more of a back seat in pharmerging markets – an IMS terms for countries that meet certain national spending and GDP requirements, such as Brazil, China, India and Russia.

Across those markets, non-original medications will continue to dominate, while specialty products are expected to account for just 5-20% of drug spending.

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Filed Under: Drug Discovery Marketing