Pfizer expects major biosimilar impact... but not immediately

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Rheumatoid arthritis Etanercept

Biosimilars will capture new patients in the first instance while existing patients will gradually switch over says Pfizer, a developer of both originator biologics and copycats.

Pharma giant Pfizer holds the marketing authority for Enbrel (etanercept) – a TNF rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug co-developed with Amgen – in Europe, but its market share is now under threat by the approval of Samsung Bioepis’ biosimilar version Benepali in January​.

Enbrel clocked in over $3.8bn of sales for Pfizer in 2014, but with Benepali already being priced at a 47% discount in some countries​, CEO Ian Read was asked how the copycat version would erode future sales.

“I don’t think you are going to see [erosion] initially, but Enbrel today compared to Enbrel in 15 years’ time we will have a different answer,”​ he told delegates at last week’s Bernstein 32nd Annual Strategic Decisions Conference.

“I think for Enbrel it is going to continue to do well in Europe in this market place at this particular time, but I think eventually the biosimilar market will become more penetrable by the biosimilars.”

Unlike other Big Biopharma such as AbbVie and Roche, Pfizer is both set to see competition from biosimilars and to compete against reference biologics with its own biosimilar pipeline, including versions of other biologics used to treat RA.

“It is an opportunity for biosimilars to capture the new patients and as time goes by also begin to get a growing share of patients who will get switched over, but it won’t happen immediately,”​ Read continued.

I think the biosimilars market will look more like the sterile injectible market in terms of pricing and erosion,”​ he added.

Pfizer is already competing in Europe through its biosimilar version of J&J’s Remicade (infliximab), Inflectra – developed by Hospira which Pfizer acquired last year​. The monoclonal antibody was approved in the US in April, and the firm is hoping to launch the biosimilar later this year.

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