AAM’s annual conference, Access!, was held February 13-15 in Orlando, Florida, where Biosimilars Council members were joined by leaders from the government, nonprofit, and private sectors. During the conference, attendees shared unique insights and expertise into the challenges and opportunities in the biosimilar and pharmaceutical industries. Here are some of the key takeaways from the three days of sessions at the conference.
Blog – Access! 2023 – Takeaways for the Biosimilars Industry
The biosimilars market is growing – but more work is needed to ensure a sustainable market.
The biosimilars market has grown rapidly since the first product launched in 2015 – with 40 biosimilars receiving FDA approval, and more than 20 reaching patients. This has resulted in more than $13 billion in savings for patients and our health care system. During the panel “Growth and Uncertainties in the Biosimilars Market” at Access!, Michael Kleinrock, Research Director at the IQVIA Institute, noted, “I’m pretty enthusiastic about where biosimilars can go as a sector and in terms of helping us manage sustainability in the delivery of medicine to patients.”
However, maintaining that growth and continuing to expand biosimilar market share requires a concerted effort. As Kleinrock later noted, there are “[…] some things to be desired in terms of the volume penetration in the market, the cost savings for different stakeholders.” Issues like slow adoption by providers, decisions by PBMs to prefer high-cost high-rebate biologics, and ongoing misinformation about biosimilars can limit patient access to and savings from biosimilars.
The biosimilars market won’t reach its full potential as long as PBMs and health plans continue gaming the system through rebates.
One of the leading barriers preventing greater patient access to biosimilars is the continuing preference for high-cost high-rebate medicines by PBMs. As long as these companies continue prioritizing higher price drugs in order to command higher rebates from manufacturers, then patients will not realize the full savings potential of lower-cost biosimilars.
In the panel “Evolution and Disruption in the Generic Drug Channel,” EmsanaRx Co-Founder and CEO Greg Baker highlighted the issue, saying: “Drug affordability in America is a problem because PBMs sit in the middle and try to make more money this year than they made last year, and then they’re going to have to make more money next year and the year after and the year after.” Brenda Motheral, CEO of Archimedes, echoed this sentiment and provided an example: “We’ve already seen Cigna speak to their earnings are going to grow specifically due to the growing rebates around this product [Humira].”
The biosimilars industry and stakeholders must continue to work together to find solutions to our shared issues.
There’s so much potential in the biosimilars industry, and we need to keep pushing forward. As noted by Michelle Holm, Senior Pharmacist Contract Portfolio Manager and an Assistant Professor at Mayo Clinic, biosimilar manufacturers and other stakeholders have a common goal, “I really don’t think it needs to be institutions and contractors like myself on one side of the table and manufacturers on the other. I think we’re at the table together. We both want what’s best for the patients.”
By continuing to come together, share ideas, and outline solutions to our shared goals, we can successfully develop and advocate for policies that increase patient access to biosimilars. Don’t miss out on the Festival of Biologics coming up this March, where Biosimilars Council staff will take part in engaging panels on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Also, you won’t want to miss the GRx+Biosims Conference this fall, the premier scientific and regulatory event for the biosimilars industry.
About the Biosimilars Council
The Biosimilars Council, a division of the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM), works to ensure a positive environment for patient access to biosimilar medicines. The Biosimilars Council is a leading source for information about the safety and efficacy of more affordable alternatives to costly brand biologic medicines. Areas of focus include public and health expert education, strategic partnerships, government affairs, legal affairs and regulatory policy. More information is available on our about page.
AAM is driven by the belief that access to safe, quality, effective medicine has a tremendous impact on a person’s life and the world around them. Generic and biosimilar medicines improve people’s lives, improving society and the economy in turn. AAM represents the manufacturers and distributors of finished generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, manufacturers and distributors of bulk pharmaceutical chemicals, and suppliers of other goods and services to the generic industry. Generic pharmaceuticals are 90 percent of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. but only 20 percent of total drug spending.