Conference Coverage

Could the biosimilar market stall before it ever really started?



– If the United States does not step up and create a thriving biosimilars market soon, it risks destroying the market not only domestically but internationally as well.

Gregory Twachtman/MDedge News

Gillian Woollett

This was the warning Gillian Woollett, senior vice president at Avalere, provided to attendees at the annual meeting of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

She prefaced her warning by quoting Alex Azar, secretary of Health & Human Services, who said that those “trying to hold back biosimilars are simply on the wrong side of history,” though Ms. Woollett said they “may be on the right side of the current economic model in the United States.”

And despite the probusiness, procompetition philosophy of current HHS leadership, there has been very little movement on creating a competitive market for biosimilars in the United States, evidenced by the very expensive regulatory requirements that biosimilar manufacturers need to meet in order to get products to market.

“It’s not that we won’t have competition in the U.S.,” she said. “I think we will. We do have that innovation. ... It’s just that biosimilars may not ultimately be part of that competition. And for that, we will pay a price, and I actually think the whole world will pay a price because if we are not providing the [return on investment], I am not sure the other markets can sustain it.”

One issue biosimilars have is the lack of recognition of the value that they bring.

“That biosimilars offer the same clinical outcomes at a lower price is yet to be a recognized value,” she said. “To me that’s a really surprising situation in the United States.”

Ms. Woollett continued: “It’s not even acknowledged as a basic truth in the United States, which again suggests the business model may not be there for biosimilars.”

Ms. Woollett disclosed no conflicts of interest relevant to her presentation.

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