More than 180 million Americans receive health care benefits through their employer, with large employers paying more than 80 percent of health care premiums for their employees. Employees are seeing an increased burden of out-of-pocket expenditures for the medications they and their families depend on as prescription drug costs rise. The fastest growing costs are for specialty drugs, including biologics.
The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) launched an initiative to better understand the potential of biosimilars to reduce health care costs. Biosimilars are lower-cost alternatives to reference biologics. ERIC commissioned independent studies of 13 large employers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and others to learn how employers are currently using biosimilars and the role employers and government have in realizing greater benefits from biosimilar options.
Analyzing health plan data, researchers found that biosimilars saved employers, employees, and their families significant amounts of money. They identified many barriers to the availability of biosimilars in the marketplace, which keep costs higher, including limited or no availability and products being disfavored because of financial arrangements within the drug supply chain.
Recognizing that employers may be able to do more on their own to help speed the uptake of biosimilars, ERIC has laid out innovative practices for employers that could be implemented immediately to drive down costs. They’ve also provided a detailed account of federal legislative and regulatory options that would promote a favorable environment for biosimilars. This competition will drive down the costs of biologics, leading to lower-cost choices for employers and patients.