Biosimilar Savings Could be Left Unrealized


The United States has been slow to embrace biosimilars, which may impact the overall effect they have on prescription drug spending.

Richard G. Frank, PhD, a health economist at Harvard Medical School and the former deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, has penned a new perspective paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in which he warns that, if biosimilars continue their trajectory, they could fail to deliver on their promise to provide cost savings to the US health system.

Frank points out that only an estimated $3.2 billion (3%) of US biologic drug spending is currently subject to competition from biosimilars. That is a disappointing figure given that spending on biologic drugs has been averaging a 10% annual increase recently.

So what’s holding biosimilars back? Frank says that physicians are “naturally hesitant” to prescribe biosimilars because they lack familiarity with these products, “especially given that regulations create the impression that a biosimilar may not be all that similar to its originator.”

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