Magellan Rx Management saw a significant shift in utilization from Janssen Biotech, Inc.’s Remicade (infliximab) to biosimilars after it implemented a comprehensive utilization management (UM) program, resulting in 34% drug cost savings, the PBM reported.

The program, which began in late 2017, involves any patient prescribed an infliximab product for any indication, and is available to all payer clients as an opt-in option, Steve Cutts, senior vice president and general manager, tells AIS Health.

When Magellan Rx began the infliximab program in the fourth quarter of 2017, 100% of the PBM’s patients receiving an infliximab product received Remicade and none took biosimilars, the PBM said. In the third quarter of 2018, the last quarter for which Magellan has data, 86% of patients got the biosimilar and 14% took the brand-name drug.

The FDA approved the first infliximab biosimilar, Pfizer, Inc.’s Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb), in April 2016. The agency now lists three approved infliximab biosimilars: Inflectra; Merck & Co., Inc.’s Renflexis (infliximab-abda); and Pfizer’s Ixifi (infliximab-qbtx). Pfizer is not launching Ixifi in the U.S. since it already has Inflectra on the market, so only Inflectra and Renflexis are being sold in the U.S.

Magellan Rx works with both infliximab biosimilar manufacturers, Cutts says, and can “offer multiple options to our clients regarding which biosimilar or combination of biosimilars will work best for their unique situation.”

The Magellan Rx infliximab UM program aims to overcome reluctance on the part of physicians to prescribe biosimilars by emphasizing that they provide the same level of clinical efficacy and safety, with the added benefit of cost savings.

“Likely the most important factor [in the Magellan Rx utilization management program] is obtained provider acceptance that the biosimilar is going to deliver the same results as the innovator product,” says Daniel Malone, R.Ph., Ph.D., professor at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.