Biosimilars will contribute to cost-savings in US pharmaceutical industry in 2020

The pharmaceutical industry is mixed on the factors that will have the greatest positive impact on the industry in 2020, with patent expiry of biologics and vertical integration highlighted as some of the key areas of interest, says leading data and analytics company, GlobalData.

According to the company’s latest annual outlook report, ‘The State of the Biopharmaceutical Industry – 2020’, about 20% of survey respondents respectively identified patent expiry of biologics and vertical integration as areas that were expected to support industry growth. A surprising addition to the mix was drug pricing and reimbursement, which was viewed as equally important.

Bonnie Bain, PhD, Global Head of Pharma at GlobalData, comments: “It is possible that the industry expects that either government mandates will eventually be put in place to control future price hikes or efforts such as the launch of biosimilars and vertical integration will eventually lower costs.”

Below are some other prominent factors expected to affect the US pharmaceutical industry this year:

Biosimilars

Bain says: “Biosimilars will gain a strong foothold in the US in 2020, building on the success seen with the launch of Amgen’s biosimilar monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), Mvasi (Avastin) and Kanjinti (Herceptin) in 2019.

“Both of these drugs are now being used in the clinic and have been added to insurance formularies. Several additional launches followed in 2019 including Pfizer’s Avastin biosimilar in December 2019. Pfizer also recently announced launch plans for biosimilars of Rituxan (January 2020) and Herceptin (February 2020).

“Even though the price differential between biosimilars and their branded counterparts is only around 15%-30%, which is significantly less than the cost savings seen with the average generic drug, we still expect that biosimilars will start to contribute cost-savings in the US in 2020. Uncertainty still exists for reimbursement, automatic substitution, competition from next-generation biologics and litigation but the fact that insurers such as United Healthcare placed Amgen’s biosimilar mAbs on the primary tier of its formulary bodes well for future biosimilars.”

US-China trade war

Bain continues: “Despite concerns about a trade war between the US and China, it is not a surprise that China is still viewed as a huge market opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry. China has the largest population in the world and a growing middle class. The country is also a leader in research and development (R&D) innovation for medicine and technologies such as robotics and 5G, which are transforming healthcare.

To date, the trade standoff has not had a major impact on the pharmaceutical industry and this could be contributing to the ongoing optimism.”

Vertical integration

Bain concludes: “Vertical integrations continued in 2019 but on a lesser scale than in prior years. These deals are touted as opportunities to reduce inconsistencies, consolidate data, align pricing and ultimately lower cost of care.

“It is still too early to determine the overall impact but one thing is certain – this trend will likely continue in 2020 as the industry looks for new ways to control costs and increase margins.”

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