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Friday, March 06, 2015

Biogenetic "biosimilars" are drugs that will bring cost relief to pharmaceutical expenses

Profit is the motivator driving the huge pharmaceutical industry.
Now biogenetic drugs can finally help bring prices down.

"Lower-priced copies of biotech drugs are estimated to save the U.S. $47 billion over the next 10 years..."

Biosimilars have grabbed more than a 50% market share in the U.K. and Germany, and less than 40% in France.

Affluent people who can afford the best medicines have access to any drugs, without regard for costs. On the other hand, middle class and poor people often trade off essentials to find the money to pay for needed curative drugs.

Finally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of at least one biogenetic drug, named Zarxio. It's a drug like the high priced Neupogen, prescribed to help cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy to resist deadly infections.  

Although this development is very good news moving forward, the down side is to wonder how many people died prematurely because they were unable to afford the drug Neupogen.

The biotech drug is a rival version of Neupogen, an Amgen Inc. treatment prescribed to chemotherapy patients. The copycat medicine, Zarxio from Novartis AG , is the first approved under a new regulatory framework designed to introduce competition for costly biotech drugs. Biotech drugs are produced in living cells and typically administered by infusion or injection.

Lower-priced copies of biotech drugs are estimated to save the U.S. $47 billion over the next 10 years, according to consulting firm Avalere Health LLC. 

Unlike regular pills, biotechnology drugs haven’t faced generic competition when their patents expire because they are much harder to copy, and because regulators until now couldn’t figure out how to approve knockoffs that were highly similar but not exact replicas. 

The knockoffs are known as “biosimilars.”

Dr. Kimberly Blackwell, director of the breast-cancer program at the Duke Cancer Institute, said she expects to begin putting most of her new patients on the biosimilar once it becomes available, so long as their health insurance will cover the drug

Dr. Blackwell, who received funding from Novartis to help study Zarxio, said a third of her patients have been unable to afford the out-of-pocket cost of Neupogen when they pick the drug up at the pharmacy, forcing them to make regular trips to get it at the hospital, where they don’t have to pay a copay.

Aline Charabaty, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, said biosimilars could be a welcome tool for reducing health-care costs.

“It will save money for the overall health system and it will probably make [drugs] more accessible to more patients,” she said.

Biosimilars have been on sale in Europe since 2006, where their use has grown slowly, according to Michael Kleinrock, research director at the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. 

Biosimilars have grabbed more than a 50% market share in the U.K. and Germany, and less than 40% in France.

Clearly, untold thousands of Americans have likely suffered and died as a result of being unable to access biosimilar drugs, when the original brand wasn't affordable for them to purchase.

A similarly slow buildup of biosimilar use is anticipated in the U.S., with the drugs eventually securing as much as 70% of prescriptions.

Biosimilar drugs will likely extend the lives of many untold thousands of people, who will finally have access to these biogenetic drugs when they're affordable.  

Europeans obviously had access to these biogenetic drugs for quite some time......finally, the US drug companies will give up their cash cow profits and sell these drugs at affordable prices to American patients. Patients will be able to share in the profits, by having affordable access to more life supporting drugs.

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