The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is dragging their heels in recommending the biosimilar form of the drug Remicade, according to Napp Pharmaceuticals. According to the pharmaceutical developer, the NHS could save £90 million if it switched all patients currently taking Remicade (infliximab), to its biosimilar.
The NHS has reportedly overspent by £80 million from the Cancer Drugs Fund. Because of this, Napp says the NHS needs to make biosimilar drug switches a higher priority.
Napp Pharmaceuticals said in a statement, “This is in contrast to countries such as Denmark, where uptake at 5 months after launch was reported to be 90 percent. In Norway, uptake at 6 months after launch was 20 percent, but has grown steadily to 69 percent as of July this year.* This represents a huge missed opportunity for the NHS.”
Andrew Roberts, the director of market access for Napp Pharmaceuticals said, “The NHS has missed out on significant cost savings over the past six months due to the lack of uptake of biosimilar infliximab; cost savings that are vital when the NHS is seeking over £20 billion in efficiency savings.”
“There needs to be clear guidance and a robust system of accountability to drive faster adoption of biosimilar medicines at the clinical commissioning groups (CCG) and Hospital Trust level,” he adds. “Only then can the NHS truly take advantage of the multiple benefits they will bring in the coming years and pass those benefits on to patients through improved services and increased access to medicines.”
“Whilst there is evidence to support that initiating patients on biosimilars as a first-line treatment or switching patients to biosimilars may save the NHS money, our customer research shows that there is still a lot of anxiety around their use from both patients and clinicians,” commented Sarah Eglington, healthcare intelligence director of Binley’s – a UK provider of healthcare intelligence products and services. “For pharma as a whole, more engagement with key decision makers and education around the safety and efficacy of biosimilars – and their positive impact on the patient pathway – is needed to demonstrate that cost isn’t the only reason for making these changes.”
Remsima – Napp Pharmaceuticals’ biosimilar of Remicade – is also in competition with a biosimilar called Inflectra, which was developed by Hospira. Both Remsima and Inflectra are manufactured by Celltrion, and are identical products.
The drug infliximab is an anti-inflammatory agent which is used to treat ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Remsima is at least 30 percent cheaper than the original, whose NHS sales totaled £164 million in 2013.
*Updated October 2, 2015 – statistics modified for accuracy.
- Napp dissatisfied with NHS biosimilar uptake – http://www.pharmatimes.com/Article/15-09-30/Napp_dissatisfied_with_NHS_biosimilar_uptake.aspx
- Binley’s – http://www.binleys.com/