Discount dancers: Pfizer's infliximab matching Merck’s new biosimilar rival

By Dan Stanton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/jackaldu
Image: iStock/jackaldu
Pfizer dropped the US price of Inflectra, its version of Johnson & Johnson's Remicade, just weeks before Merck & Co. launched its infliximab biosimilar, Renflexis.

When Pfizer and its manufacturing partner Celltrion launched the first infliximab biosimilar in the US late last year, it did so at a 15% discount​ on the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) price of the reference product, J&J’s Remicade.

Currently Inflectra is priced at 19% below the WAC for Remicade, Pfizer spokeman Thomas Biegi told Biopharma-Reporter but in June, as part of their quarterly update, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established an average sales price (ASP) payment allowance limit factoring in Inflectra's ASP as $753.40, effective from July 1 through September 30.

The ASP exactly matches the WAC price of Renflexis, Samsung Bioepis' infliximab biosimilar launched by US commercialisation partner Merck & Co. earlier this week, representing a 35% discount on Remicade.

“We see significant potential for Inflectra as the first biosimilar in the US to Remicade​,” Biegi told us.

Inflectra’s average selling price (ASP) represents a 35% discount versus Remicade’s wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) price. It is inclusive of the discounts we have been offering to providers and other customers in the US and is equal to Renflexis WAC price.”

He added since its launch, Pfizer has seen “significant interest among health care professionals and pharmacy & therapeutic (P&T) committees,” ​and as such “there has been rapid conversion to Inflectra in a matter of months.”

With a second infliximab product on the market leading to an increased discount, the question to ask is how much further will prices drop as new competitors arrive? Amgen and Sandoz both have infliximab molecules in their pipelines and will be targeting the US market over the coming years.

However, in J&J’s investor call last week, CFO Dominic Caruso said there has only been an approximate 5% drop in US Remicade sales due to a number of factors on top of the arrival of Inflectra, below the 15% predicted​. And despite more biosimilars entering the market, he expected Remicade would continue to be a top seller for J&J.

“We have our contracting in place with all the managed care organisations, so we feel pretty good that Remicade erosion overall even with the entrance of a new biosimilar will be less than we previously expected.”

Related topics: Markets & Regulations, Biosimilars

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