Organon, Samsung Bioepis launch copycat for arthritis drug Humira at 85% discount
July 1 (Reuters) – Drugmaker partners Organon and Samsung Bioepis said on Saturday that they had launched a far cheaper copycat version of AbbVie’s (ABBV.N) blockbuster arthritis drug Humira, while two other drugmakers entered the market with much more modest discounts to the branded medicine’s list price.
The copycat drug called Hadlima will be listed at $1,038 per month, representing an 85% discount of Humira’s current $6,922 monthly price, the companies said.
Swiss drugmaker Sandoz also said on Saturday that it had launched a Humira biosimilar, Hyrimoz, at a 5% discount to the branded medicine’s price, as well as an unbranded version of Humira at an 81% discount.
Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim later said it released its rival version of Humira, Cyltezo, at a 5% to 7% price cut from the list price of the branded medicine.
Unlike pills, which have extremely cheap generic copies, complex, expensive biologic drugs made from living cells cannot be exactly duplicated. Their closest alternatives are called biosimilars.
Organon and Samsung Bioepis did not say if they had struck deals with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which negotiate insurance coverage on behalf of large employers and health insurance plans, to secure reimbursement of Hadlima for patients.
Three PBMs — CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), Cigna Group’s (CI.N) Express Scripts and UnitedHealth Group’s (UNH.N) Optum RX — together control 80% of the U.S. prescription drug market.
Healthcare experts predicted some Humira biosimilars would debut with a small discount to appeal to pharmacy benefit managers. Some of their fees are a percentage of the savings they negotiate and the PBMs are expected to win significant discounts from the announced prices for health plans.
In an interview with Reuters, Organon Chief Executive Officer Kevin Ali said the drugmakers that did not make PBM deals for their Humira biosimilars this year would fight it out over the next six months for insurance coverage in 2024.
“Right now, it’s really about what I would consider the race to getting on (PBM) formularies,” he said.
Hadlima was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019, but the terms of a legal settlement with AbbVie restricted the companies from offering it in the U.S.
Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen (AMGN.O) launched the first Humira biosimilar for the U.S. in January at 5% and 55% discounts to the branded medicine, depending on the buyer.
California drugmaker Coherus BioSciences (CHRS.O) said last month that it planned to launch its biosimilar in partnership with billionaire Mark Cuban at an 85% discount.
AbbVie sued the company, accusing it of breaching the agreement that granted Coherus a non-exclusive license to commercialize a biosimilar version of Humira in the U.S. from July 1.