As FDA approval of biosimilars continues and agents are expanding into new indications, more payers are using these drugs and seeing cost savings through that utilization, according to Zitter Insights.
When the FDA approved Fresenius Kabi’s Stimufend (pegfilgrastim-fpgk) on Sept. 1, it was the sixth biosimilar of Amgen Inc.’s Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) that the agency had approved. It also was the 38th biosimilar approved since the first one, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. division Sandoz Inc.’s Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz), was approved March 6, 2015, referencing Amgen’s Neupogen (filgrastim).
The FDA approved Stimufend to decrease the incidence of infection, as manifested by febrile neutropenia, in people with nonmyeloid malignancies who are receiving anti-cancer drugs associated with a clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia. Recommended dosing of the subcutaneous injection is 6 mg once per chemotherapy cycle. The company says it expects to launch the granulocyte colony-stimulating factor in the U.S. in early 2023.
While many of the biosimilars have launched, some have yet to do so due to patent litigation with their reference drugs’ manufacturers. Most notably, AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab), which saw its first biosimilar, Amgen’s Amjevita (adalimumab-atto), approved Sept. 23, 2016, will see competition from no less than seven agents in 2023 — and anticipated tremendous cost savings.
But even without those agents, payers already are experiencing savings through the use of biosimilars.
For the Biosimilar Trends Special Report: Q1 2022, during March and April 2022, Zitter Insights polled 36 commercial payers covering 117.8 million lives, 25 Medicare payers covering 38.7 million lives, 51 physicians and 125 oncologists. Payers with more than 90% of lives said that they had seen cost savings from shifting to biosimilars, with the most coming from rheumatoid arthritis and neutropenia (see chart). Respondents also said that neutropenia was the indication with the highest prescription volume of biosimilars.
Zitter Insights and AIS Health are both MMIT companies.
Almost all physician respondents — 98% — have prescribed biosimilars in rheumatoid arthritis. And 76% said they expect use to increase within that indication over the 12 months following the survey.
Within the oncology indications, 74% of oncologists said they had prescribed agents for breast cancer, followed by 66% who had written a script for a neutropenia biosimilar.
For more information on the Zitter Insights data, contact Jill Brown Kettler at firstname.lastname@example.org.