- Coherus BioSciences has batted back a legal challenge from AbbVie weeks before it plans to launch a much cheaper version of the latter company’s best-selling rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira.
- The latest dispute began after Coherus on June 1 announced plans to sell its biosimilar, dubbed Yusimry, at an 85% discount to Humira and work with Mark Cuban’s online pharmacy to provide it to other patients for even less starting in July. On June 6, Coherus received a notice from AbbVie saying that the plans violated a licensing agreement between the two companies.
- After a round of correspondence and dueling court filings, the companies resolved the dispute on Wednesday. AbbVie won’t terminate the license agreement based on its June 6 notice and agreed not to try to terminate the license in the future unless it both notifies Coherus of an alleged breach and also gives the company a chance to fix the problem, Coherus said in a regulatory filing.
The last-minute legal volley by AbbVie took aim at Coherus pricing plans that have the potential to shake up the market for inflammatory disease drugs.
Until now, the few biosimilars on the market have had a modest impact, with their developers often setting prices 15% to 30% below their branded rivals. But Coherus is proposing a radical discount to one of the world’s best-selling medicines, one that brought in more than $21 billion in revenue last year. The result would be more akin to the kind of pricing associated with generic versions of pharmaceutical pills.
Coherus won’t be the first copycat version of Humira. Amgen claimed that prize earlier this year, launching its biosimilar with two list prices – one that was 55% lower and another that was 5% lower than the branded medicine to account for rebating and discounting practices. Besides Coherus, at least six more companies are set to introduce their copycat versions in the next few months.
To date, AbbVie has weathered the competition about as Wall Street expected. Humira sales in the U.S. dropped 26% in the first quarter as the company conceded on price. But that still meant the drug brought in almost $3 billion in the U.S. market.
Like many other companies vying to sell copycat versions of Humira, Coherus over the years fought through a web of litigation spun by AbbVie lawyers. In 2019, the two companies announced they had reached a settlement that would generate royalties for AbbVie and give Coherus a license to enter the market in 2023 with its biosimilar version of Humira.