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    Will docs prescribe the new RA biosimilars?

    While FDA recently approved two new biosimilars for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, questions remain about how quickly physicians and patients will embrace the new drugs.

    In late September, FDA approved Amgen’s adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), a biosimilar to Humira, to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions. Earlier that month, FDA gave the green light to Sandoz’s etanercept-szzs (Erelzi), a biosimilar to Amgen’s top-selling Enbrel, for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

    Plus, filgrastim-sndz (Zarxio) from Novartis/ Sandoz has been on the market since earlier this year.

    “This [Amjevita] is the fourth FDA-approved biosimilar. The biosimilar pathway is still a new frontier and one that we expect will enhance access to treatment for patients with serious medical conditions,” said Janet Woodcock, MD, Director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press statement.

    There is no doubt that biosimilars for RA stand to save the U.S. healthcare system millions of dollars. AbbVie’s revenue from Humira was more than $14 billion in 2015, making it the top-selling drug in the U.S., according to 24/7 Wall St. Enbrel, meanwhile, netted sales of $5.1 million in the U.S. last year, according to Fortune.

    In addition, total savings to the U.S. healthcare system from all biosimilars are projected to reach between $57 and $110 billion from 2015 through 2020, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

    “The RA category is one of the most costly for payers. For this reason, to the extent and pace of their uptake, biosimilars will save U.S. society, individual payers, and patients quite a lot of money.  How much money, how soon, and with what market share will depend on several factors,” said Elan Rubenstein, PharmD, Principal of EB Rubinstein Associates, a managed care and pharmaceuticals consultancy.

    Christine Blank, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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