CVS-Driven Biosimilar Boom Stokes Excitement, Frustration at AMCP Conference

Since CVS Health Corp. dropped the blockbuster drug Humira (adalimumab) from its national commercial template formularies on April 1, the number of prescriptions written for Humira biosimilars has jumped from just 5% to 36%, according to a recent equity analyst report.

Speakers at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) conference in New Orleans said the development is encouraging and could change the game for future biosimilars — including those in the pipeline for another immunosuppressive drug, Stelara (ustekinumab). But clinicians speaking at the conference also said that the transition to biosimilars has not always gone smoothly for patients.

For example, rheumatologist Mark Box, M.D., said the potential cost savings associated with switching patients to biosimilars compared to the administrative burden on providers “often does not balance.”

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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