December 15, 2015 – Biosimilars


Anchor lead:  Two federal agencies are poised to help ease some drug prices, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Antibody-based therapies are increasingly used for the treatment of diseases ranging from cancer to autoimmune conditions, but they are also frequently breathtakingly expensive.  Now the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are backing ‘biosimilars,’ copycat drugs that are like generics.  Paul Rothman, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, explains how the strategy may bring down the price.

Rothman: That’s why you do biosimilars.  Those drugs are expensive to make, much more expensive than a small molecule that we’re used to but the costs are high because of the research required to make the drug and so the biosimilars, the same way a generic drug works for a small molecule these biosimliars will similarly be less expensive, but not as cheap as a generic drug for a small molecule because making antibodies is more expensive than making small molecules.   :27

Rothman says that like generics, biosimilars will have the same therapeutic value as the proprietary medication.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

Dr. Rothman  is a member of the Board of Directors of Merck and Co.  He receives payment and equity for this service.  This arrangement has been reviewed and approved by the Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.