Biosimilars were supposed to save us. Can they even save themselves? - (Star Tribune via NewsPoints Desk)

  • US sales of biosimilars have been so limited that their future is in doubt, with one company already having scrapped nearly all its biosimilar development, as reported by the Star Tribune.

  • According to the news source, under the worst-case scenario, drugmakers could abandon biosimilar development, and makers of original biologic drugs could keep raising their six-figure-a-year prices.

  • Two years ago, RAND Health predicted biosimilars would save the US roughly $54 billion from 2017 through 2026, although the news source suggested that this is looking optimistic.

  • "This is a make-or-break period," said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down in April. "My fear is that some of the biosimilar-makers...will say, 'We'll just go back to doing other things,'"  and other drugmakers won't enter the niche.

  • The news source said that in Europe, monopoly-protecting patents generally do not last as long as in the US and government-run health systems have favored biosimilars in exchange for discounts. There are now 54 biosimilar available in Europe at discounts up to 80%.

  • In the US, the FDA has approved 24 biosimilars, nearly all since 2015. Just 11 of them are for sale, generally at 15% to 35% below the original drug's price, while those discounts are easily matched by original biologic makers, the news source said.

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