Irish hospitals to get incentives to switch patients to biosimilars

Biosimilars/General | Posted 07/06/2019 post-comment0 Post your comment

Hospitals in Ireland are being offered a Euros 500 incentive for every patient they switch off two expensive biologicals to cheaper biosimilars.

Switching V19A17

The move involves originator biologicals Enbrel (etanercept) and Humira (adalimumab). Etanercept biosimilars, Benepali and Erelzi were approved in the European Union (EU) in January 2016 and June 2017, respectively [1]. There have also been 10 adalimumab biosimilars approved in the EU, since the first biosimilars, Amgevita and Solymbic were approved in March 2017 [1].

It is estimated that Ireland spends about Euros 190 million a year on these two drugs alone. It is hoping that switching to biosimilars of Enbrel and Humira will save the state Euros 50 million based on transferring just half of patients to a biosimilar.

The money will be paid directly to hospitals and the gain-share scheme could enable up to Euros 8.7 million in savings to be ploughed back into hospitals. This is based on all 17,400 patients currently using Enbrel and Humira in Ireland being switched to a biosimilar.

Ireland has very low switching rates. In fact, in April 2018, only six patients had been switched from Humira to an adalimumab biosimilar. While for Enbrel, despite it going off-patent in 2016, biosimilars had gained just 1.8% of the Irish market.

The incentive is the latest attempt to reduce the country’s drug bill. Previous initiatives include The Ireland’s National Biosimilar Medicines Policy, which was introduced in March 2018 and the ‘Framework Agreement on Supply and Pricing of Medicines’, which the entered into with the Irish Government in July 2016 [2].

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biosimilars approved in Europe []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Jun 7]. Available from:
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Ireland’s National Biosimilar Medicines Policy aims to increase biosimilars use []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Jun 7]. Available from:

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Source: Irish Times

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