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Huge discount on biosimilar infliximab in Norway Posted 13/03/2015

Norway’s price regulator has been offered a discount of 72% for biosimilar infliximab in the country’s latest tender for drugs.

Norway’s drug procurement cooperation (Legemiddelinnkjøpssamarbeid; LIS) published the Norwegian national hospital tender for biologicals within rheumatology, stomach, intestinal and skin diseases in February 2015. Within the document came the revelation that Orion Pharma (Orion) had proposed a 72% price reduction for the infliximab biosimilar Remsima, an offer which gives a 69% lower cost than the price offered by Merck for their originator product Remicade (infliximab).

This latest tender will cover the period 1 March 2015 to 29 February 2016. The huge discounts offered by Orion have led LIS to recommend that hospital physicians select Remsima in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and psoriasis.

The discount from Orion has also stunned industry observers, who ‘had hoped to see discounts around 50%’. The discount offered by Orion for 2014 for Remsima was 39% lower than Remicade.

The news is expected to be followed by rapid uptake in new patients. Hospitals in Norway can treat a patient for three years with Remsima for the same price as one year with Remicade. Patients currently being treated with brand-name Remicade are expected to remain on Remicade until more data on switching can be provided. However, Head of LIS, Mr Torfinn Aanes commented that ‘if hospitals switch patients over to Remsima from Remicade they can save 236.6 million kroner in one year’.

Norway is funding a clinical study in which patients will be switched from originator infliximab (Remicade) to biosimilar infliximab (Remsima) in the hope of increasing uptake of the biosimilar infliximab [1]. Data from this study is hoped to provide reassurance that switching between the originator and biosimilar is safe.

‘The difference is significant and much larger than expected’ said Hospira CEO Kjetil Berg and ‘is a sign that Orion do other calculations than Hospira’. The discount Hospira had offered for Inflectra was 51% compared to Remicade, leading the company to lose the tender process in Norway two years in a row.

Merck commented, however, that they had expected ‘tough competition’ from biosimilars and have ‘seen similar discounts in Finland’.

The tender process in Norway has been followed closely by drug companies and governments in other European countries and is expected may set guidelines for pricing of biosimilars across Europe. Coupled with the February 2015 loss of patent for Remicade [2], the discount is expected to provide more patients access to the life-changing biological.

Related article
Norwegian study may be slowing adoption of biosimilar infliximab

References
1.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Norwegian study hopes to increase biosimilars uptake in Europe [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Mar 13]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/Norwegian-study-hopes-to-increase-biosimilars-uptake-in-Europe 
2.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. US$67 billion worth of biosimilar patents expiring before 2020 [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Mar 13]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/US-67-billion-worth-of-biosimilar-patents-expiring-before-2020

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Source: Dagensmedisin, LIS

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