One Giant Leap for More Affordable Specialty Drugs

Aug 26, 2015

With spending on prescription drugs continuing to rise, topped by double-digit trends in specialty medications, biosimilars will play an important part in keeping healthcare benefits affordable and accessible for Americans.

There are more than 4,000 pharmaceutical products already in the U.S. market. And on September 3, 2015, we anticipate that there will be one more: Zarxio™ (filgrastim-sndz). But this additional product is not just any new specialty drug – it will be the first biosimilar available in the U.S. And it could open the door to a wave of biosimilars that may save $250 billion in drug spend for the country over the next decade and deliver patient access to these life-sustaining therapy classes.

Biosimilars will do for the biotech market, primarily made up of very expensive injectable drugs, what generic drugs did for traditional oral solid pills a decade ago: lower the cost for safe, effective treatments that improve and save lives. They will revolutionize the category of spending that is among the fastest-growing and most worrisome for payers who want to continue providing sustainable, high-quality benefits for their members.

While biosimilars have been safely used in the European Union, Japan and other countries for years – with prices 30% lower than their brand-name counterparts – applications here have been bogged down in the regulatory process and patent litigation. But next week, the U.S. is likely to start catching up.

The High Cost of Delayed Access

Zarxio, a non-interchangeable biosimilar to Neupogen® (filgrastim), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 6. However, due to litigation between the manufacturers of the biosimilar and the originator product, Zarxio’s release was postponed. Thanks to a July 21 appeals court ruling, Zarzio is now expected to launch in the U.S. on September 3.

Express Scripts estimates that the U.S. has likely wasted more than $45 million for every month that Zarxio was delayed from coming to market.

Bold Advocacy and Superior Care That Puts Medicine Within Reach

For several years, Express Scripts has advocated strongly for biosimilars in the U.S. market, and we are pleased that this moment has arrived.

With more than 1,000 extensively trained specialist pharmacists and nurses working in our condition-specific Therapeutic Resource CentersSM, our specialty pharmacy Accredo provides proactive therapy management, develops a deeper understanding of each patient through one-on-one consultation, and delivers personalized education that motivates patients to remain adherent. This comprehensive, end-to-end approach will enable us to improve patient care while reducing wasteful spending in therapy classes where a biosimilar is available.

With spending on prescription drugs continuing to rise, topped by double-digit trends in specialty medications, biosimilars will play an important part in keeping healthcare benefits affordable and accessible for Americans.

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Lab Staff
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