Biosimilars Can Put Cancer Drugs in Reach

Aug 3, 2017
Bold actions drive competition, generate savings and deliver better care
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  • Cancer

Rochelle Article

The best way to bring down drug costs in the United States is through competition. Look no further than the use of generic drugs. Nearly 90%of all prescriptions filled today are for generics – clinically-equivalent, lower-cost alternatives to brand medications.

Today, we’re on the verge of another cost-saving opportunity – the introduction of biosimilars, clinically-equivalent, lower-cost options for brand medications, specifically the complex biotech drugs that treat many specialty diseases.

The first biosimilars have reached the U.S. market, and more are in the pipeline. But as these potentially life-saving and money-saving medications become available to patients and their physicians, many questions remain.

What stands in the way of their use? How can those who need these medicines overcome regulatory hurdles, and legal challenges brought by pharma companies trying to protect the profitability of their originator drugs? Is the use case different in life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, than in other therapeutic classes?

Dr. Steve Miller, Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer and a leading advocate for the use of biosimilars as a path to bringing medicine within reach of patients, recently participated in a webinar that addressed those questions and more.

Hosted by OBR, a digital platform for oncology focused news and information, the discussion also featured Howard Hochster, MD, professor of medicine and associate director for clinical services at Yale Cancer Center; and Christina Corridon, associate principal and oncology practice lead at ZS Associates, which surveyed oncologists, payers and pharmacy directors on their attitudes toward biosimilars.

Among the findings discussed, oncologists said they would be driven to use biosimilars by favorable cost, ease of reimbursement, guidelines, and manufacturer brand. About half of those surveyed said lower cost was an important factor – of the total sample, 68% said they discuss financial status with patients, and 44% say it impacts treatment.

Express Scripts predicts that the use of biosimilars will generate new competition and, in the process, save the health care system hundreds of billions of dollars, providing headroom for payers and patients to afford newer medical innovations.

A replay of the webinar is available here.

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Lab Staff
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