Big Molecule Watch
August 6, 2020

Vizient Looks to Biosimilars to Help Contain COVID-19 Drug Price Inflation

Last week, Vizient, a healthcare performance improvement company, released its Summer 2020 Drug Price Forecast.  In the forecast, Vizient reported on the role of COVID-19 in changing healthcare priorities and affecting spending.  Particularly, it advised its member health care groups to hedge against drug price inflation, which it estimated will reach 3.29% in 2021, through the use of biosimilars.  Vizient reported on the missed opportunity of biosimilars by highlighting a number of drugs without biosimilar competition, such as adalimumab (Humira), which accounts for 19.15% of spending among the top 10 disease-modifying therapies used by Vizient members – the highest proportion of its members’ non-acute care drug spending.  Vizient noted that there are five versions of the biosimilar adalimumab that have already been approved and an estimated six additional products in phase 3 development, but none are projected to reach the market before 2023.  Vizient also reasoned that if these biosimilars make it to market, they hold the potential to lower the cost through price competition, which Abbvie already increased by 7.4% in January 2020.

Vizient observed that primary care patient visits, preventive treatments, diagnostic interventions and nonurgent surgical procedures all trended downward during the pandemic, causing financial hurdles and potential long-term, negative clinical consequences.  But according to Vizient, the pandemic also created tremendous opportunity for the uptake of biosimilars through the expansion of medication management services including retail pharmacy, specialty pharmacy practice, home infusion and telepharmacy capabilities.

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