- Coherus BioSciences plans to launch its copycat version of AbbVie’s autoimmune disease drug Humira next month at an 85% discount to the branded medicine, and team up with Mark Cuban’s online pharmacy to sell it directly to patients for even less.
- The California biotech said Thursday it will sell its medicine, a biosimilar named Yusimry, at a list price of $995 for two injectors, well below Humira’s list price of $6,922 for two injectors. In addition, Coherus said Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs pharmacy will sell a two-pack of the drug for around $569 before fees and shipping.
- Yusimry’s pricing is more aggressive than the 55% discount Amgen set for its biosimilar Amjevita, which became Humira’s first challenger in the U.S. in January. Coherus’ strategy will intensify competition when a wave of Humira copycats launch in July, analysts said.
Facing the first direct challenge to Humira since the blockbuster drug was approved in 2008, AbbVie conceded on price this year to maintain its formulary position and sales volume. Revenue in the first quarter, while down a substantial 26% year-on-year, were about what analysts had expected.
Still, the bulk of its new competitors have yet to arrive, with Yusimry one of six more Humira biosimilars set to launch this year.
Previous lookalike biologic drugs have somewhat disappointed, with relatively muted effects on lowering drug costs. But some analysts have predicted the large number of Humira copycats could drive more aggressive price drops.
Yusimry’s cost amounts to about $13,000 for a year’s supply, compared with nearly $90,000 for Humira, Coherus said.
“We believe there is a large, unmet need for improved access and affordability in the U.S. healthcare system that Yusimry can address with this pricing,” Coherus CEO Denny Lanfear said in a statement.
Baird analyst Brian Skorney said the pricing goes beyond what his team had expected from the latest round of copycat launches. “This pricing strategy is not only more aggressive than Amgen’s… it is somewhat unprecedented, more closely resembling traditional generic strategy than what we've seen from biosimilars,” he wrote in a note Thursday.
Skorney added Yusimry will also pressure Amgen’s Enbrel, which already saw sales fall more than expected in the first quarter.
SVB Securities analyst David Risinger said he expects other biosimilar entrants will offer a range of pricing, and now the question is how Amgen will respond with its prices for Amjevita. He assumes Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug pharmacy is buying Coherus’ copycat drug at a slight discount to listed price to achieve a 92% discount to Humira’s list price.