Biosimilar drugs could save US billions

March 11, 2015

FDA's approval of the “generic" biologic prescription version of cancer medicine Neupogen opens the door to a movement that could save the US healthcare system tens of billions of dollars a year, according to Forbes.

FDA's approval of the “generic" biologic prescription version of cancer medicine Neupogen opens the door to a movement that could save the US healthcare system tens of billions of dollars a year, according to Forbes.

Related: FDA approves first biosimilar Zarxio

FDA approved Novartis’s Zarxio last week to much fanfare. The drug will likely be sold for significantly less than the Amgen’s Neupogen, which carries a monthly price tag of around $3,500, according to Express Scripts. As a result, the approval of Zarxio is estimated to save the US healthcare system $5.5 billion over the next decade, according to Express Scripts.

“FDA approval of the first biosimilar is an important step in improving access and affordability for high-cost biologics,” Express Scripts chief medical officer Steve Miller said in a statement to Forbes.

Related: Adoption of fast-growing biosimilars segment essential

As more brand biologics lose patent protection, Express Scripts estimates that there will be $250 billion in savings to the healthcare system over the next decade.

Biosimilar drugs have so far been unavailable in the United States because they were not included in the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act, which cleared a regulatory path for cheaper generic copies of prescriptions. However, the Affordable Care Act changed that with its mandate to bring less expensive versions of expensive biotech drugs to the US market.