Drug Development

Pfizer launching first US mAb biosimilar with Remicade knockoff, but you can forget about any fire sale

Diem Nguyen, Pfizer

Diem Nguyen, Pfizer

Pfizer $PFE plans to launch the first mAb copycat and the second biosimilar ever in the US in the next few weeks. But the price will look almost as close to the original as the drug itself, as Pfizer will only cut 15% off the wholesale price for this pioneering biosimilar.

Dubbed Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb), the therapy is a xerox of Remicade, a mainstay biologic that has bolstered J&J $JNJ for years. Developed by South Korea’s Celltrion, Pfizer bagged the US commercialization rights with its acquisition of Hospira, which partnered with Celltrion. And Celltrion has been steadily eating into Merck’s franchise revenue from Remicade after beginning sales in Europe last year.

The launch comes after J&J had vowed to fight to the last attorney in their legal battle to protect the US Remicade franchise, but a judge ruled against the pharma giant in August, clearing a path for Pfizer.

Payers had been looking for initial discounts of 15% to 30%, but it looks like they’ll have to wait until Novartis and others come along with their own rival biosimilars to begin a price war. Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez has predicted that the discounts will eventually reach 75%, though the market has a long way to go before it reaches the bargain basement.

Diem Nguyen, regional president North America, Pfizer Essential Health Business, said:

“By introducing INFLECTRA to the U.S. marketplace, Pfizer is helping customers access an additional high quality treatment option that promises greater savings for the healthcare system. We are proud of our global leadership in biosimilars, and will continue our efforts to advance a sustainable, competitive marketplace for these therapies to deliver a high quality, consistent supply of product and long-term savings and value for patients and physicians.”

J&J, though, is hanging tough. During the Q3 call on Tuesday, management was discounting the discounted competition.

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