Sandoz touts value of first biosimilar for cancer

September 4, 2015

The first biosimilar drug approved by FDA in March was officially launched in the United States on September 3 – at a value compared to competing medications.

The first biosimilar drug approved by FDA in March was officially launched in the United States on September 3 – at a value compared to competing medications.

Related: New forum expands access to biosimilars

Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz), designed to boost white blood cell counts in cancer patients, was released by Sandoz, owned by Novartis. Amgen, which manufactures a competing drug, Neupogen, had attempted to stop the sale of Zarxio, but an appeals court rejected the action.

Sandoz executives implied that Zarxio is a value, compared to Neupogen. "With the launch of Zarxio, we look forward to increasing patient, prescriber and payor access to filgrastim in the U.S. by offering a high-quality, more affordable version of this important oncology medicine,” said Richard Francis, global head, Sandoz.

Related:FDA issues biosimilar final guidance

The US wholesale list price for a 300-µg syringe of Zarxio is $275.66 and 480 µg Is $438.98, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Neupogen costs $324.30 and $516.45 for the same formulation. Neupogen produces $1.2 billion in sales annually for Amgen.

“While biologics have had a significant impact on how diseases are treated, their cost and co-pays are difficult for many patients and the healthcare budget in general,” added Ralph Boccia, MD, medical director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, and chief medical officer for the International Oncology Network (ION).” Biosimilars can help to fill an unmet need by providing expanded options, greater affordability and increased patient access to life-saving therapies.”

Amgen said it intended to compete effectively with Zarxio, according to Reuters. "All biologics, including biosimilars, are highly complex molecules and each manufacturer’s product will be distinct," the company said in a statement.

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