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October 23, 2019

Adalimumab and the Challenges for Biosimilars

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, Health Policy Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Centers for High Value Health Care and Value Based Pharmacy Initiatives, Insurance Services Division, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JAMA. 2019;322(22):2171-2172. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.16275

Biologic drugs are expensive therapeutic agents and represent a large and growing segment of pharmaceutical spending. In particular, at nearly $20 billion in sales in 2018, adalimumab (Humira) dominates the worldwide biologic market, with more than twice the annual sales of the second-highest selling drug, lenalidomide (Revlimid).1

Biosimilars have long been viewed as a solution to the high price of injectable biologic drugs like adalimumab. There are now 23 approved biosimilars in the United States with hundreds more likely under development, and the assumption is that a robust biosimilar market, once established, will substantially lower the price of biologic drugs and, consequently, spending. This appears to be happening in Europe, where biosimilar adalimumab products have led to discounts of 80% off the price of brand-name Humira.1

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