A biosimilar of Merck’s popular arthritis drug Remicade is going for a discount of nearly 70 percent of the branded price in Norway, upsetting conventional wisdom and competitors, according to a FiercePharma article.
Finnish drug company Orion Oyj, which licenses the biosimilar Remsima from South Korea’s Celltrion, began with a 39 percent discount for the drug in February 2014. The list price for the arthritis drug is about $10,600 a year, according to Bloomberg. Initially the biosimilar captured 6 percent- to -7 percent of the market, but when the discount reached 69 percent in February 2015, Remsima suddenly grabbed half of the market.
“The price is so low that everybody is switching,” Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, told Bloomberg. “The doctors are saying, ‘We can’t throw money out the window with the more expensive Remicade.’ ”
Merck’s sales of Remicade actually increased by 4 percent last year to $2.4 billion, mostly due to growth in Europe, the article notes. But the drugmaker warned in a financial filing this year that it anticipated “a more substantial decline in Remicade sales” when it lost market exclusivity in many markets in February of this year.
“If Norway is any indicator of what is to come in other developed markets, branded pharma companies facing potential biosimilar competition may have to remake their financial projections going forward,” the article said. Bloomberg figures about $50 billion in annual sales are at risk.