Matt Regan, General Manager at AbbVie UK and Chair of the ABPI Biological Medicines Access Group blogs on the latest IMS Health report publication of IMS Health’s updated report on ‘The Impact of Biosimilar Competition’.
IMS Health’s latest report on Biosimilars provides a valuable analysis of the impact of Biosimilar medicines on the evolution of the Biologics market across Europe. The ABPI welcomes and supports the observations made by IMS based on the data presented.
The continued development of biologic medicines, including biosimilars increases competition. In its report, IMS rightly points to the benefits of competition on prices across the whole product class. However, very importantly it highlights that if discounts are too high in the short-term this could preclude sustainable competition in the medium term ultimately limiting the long-term benefits of competition. This is a very important consideration for all stakeholders as the investment needed in Biologic medicines development and manufacture are considerably higher than for traditional, small molecule medicines.
There are other very important considerations for the NHS if it is to make the most of the opportunity that a more competitive marketplace presents. In its key conclusions, IMS highlight the weak correlation between Biosimilar market share and price reduction. The report points out that the competitive dynamic introduced by biosimilars will generate the competition that leads to price reductions, even if the biosimilar does not end up being the product that is used. Thus according to the report, significant savings can be achieved even with low biosimilar uptake. This conclusion underlines the importance of avoiding a too narrow focus when looking for savings on biological medicines but instead allow for the benefits of free-market competition across the class.
Moving forwards it is very important that both national and local policies support sustainable competition. Ensuring that all biological medicines, including biosimilars are allowed to compete on value is not just good for generating system efficiencies, but more importantly it also allows clinician and patient choice.
Much has been said about the potential for biosimilars to increase patient access to treatment in the UK. IMS note that this effect is seen most in markets with low initial uptake of biologics. In the UK, it is very clear that changes in HTA treatment thresholds would be needed for patient access to NICE recommended biologics to be expanded. Allowing for earlier treatment would be in line with trends seen across other well developed economies to maximize the benefits of these treatments.
The biologics and biosimilar market is set to become increasingly complex over the coming years, with multiple originator and biosimilar products in development. This complexity underpins the need for an ongoing focus on the implementation of brand name prescribing for all biological medicines to ensure patients receive the treatment intended for them by the prescriber, and any suspected adverse drug reactions can be attributed to the correct product. As highlighted by NHS England in the consensus paper "What is a biosimilar medicine?" decisions on treatment for individual patient should continue to be taken by the clinician in partnership with each individual patient, and appropriate clinical monitoring must be implemented in the event of any changes in treatment.