Game time: Remicade biosims from Celltrion, Hospira launch in big EU markets
- On Wednesday, Celltrion, Hospira, and Mundipharma launched biosimilar versions of Remicade, the blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease biologic from pharma giants J&J and Merck, in several major European markets.
- Mundipharma's biosimilar Remicade, Remsima, is launching in Germany, Italy, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, while Hospira's biosimilar, Inflectra, is launching in Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.
- Hospira's head of biologics, Paul Greenland, told Reuters that he expects the Remicaid biosimilars to be about 20% to 30% cheaper than the original branded biologic.
As Reuters notes, Remicade has about $2.3 billion in annual sales in Europe, so the patent expiry and the availability of biosimilars are going to eat into J&J's and Merck's profits in this therapeutic class. What remains to be seen is who, precisely, will get most of the discounts: Will this be a boon to government payers with little savings passed on to patients, or will everyone's costs come down?
One company that's sure to keep a close eye on biosimilar uptake in these European markets? Pfizer, which struck a $15 billion buyout deal with Hospira earlier this month.
Over on this side of the Atlantic, the FDA will be making several important decisions regarding biosimilars in the coming months, including whether or not to approve Novartis/Sandoz's biosimilar of Amgen's Neupogen (it's already been recommended for approval). An advisory committee will also discuss recommendation of Celltrion's biosimilar Remicade on March 17.
Analyses from groups like Citi and the RAND Corporation have estimated about $40 billion to $50 billion in healthcare system savings from biosimilars.