Amgen Move Gives Biosimilars Big Boost

Amgen is making a huge bet on biosimilars and helping to define the market.

The company announced that it is targeting 6 biotech blockbusters and will start selling them as  biosimilars in 2017. The initial targets: Avastin, Herceptin, Rituxan, Erbitux, Humira and Remicade. That’s over $40 billion in product. Even a small savings, like 15% to 20%, would result in a huge change in premiums.

It is still unclear what hurdles will need to be cleared from the FDA and/or other regulatory bodies, but a few other things have become very clear:

  • The biotech industry is starting to see biosimilars as more of an opportunity and less of a threat.
  • A large company like Amgen can bet on its qualifications and reputation to be a trusted manufacturer of biotech products introduced by other companies.
  • The more that companies like Amgen announce forays into the biosimilar space, the more that payers will be counting on price relief from specialty Rx products.

It will be curious to see which company makes the next announcement and how aggressive it will be.

Neil Minkoff, MD, is medical director of MediMedia  Managed Markets and also an independent health care consultant.