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This week Merck announched the US launch of its biosimilar to infliximab, and announced it will discount 35% to the branded version's wholesale acquisition cost. This comes in stark contrast to Pfizer's Inflectra, another infliximab biosimilar, that was lauched with a disappointing 15% discount. Disappointing to those expecting greater savings with biosimilars being newly launched.
Despite the approval of four anti-TNF biosimilars in 12 months, their introduction into the U.S. market has been slow and - until now - with paultry discounts compared to their introduction throughout Europe, where discounts averaged 50% and were as high as 70% (compared to the price of Remicade).
Merck has priced Renflexis at a deeper discount to Remicade (Janssen) and Inflectra (Pfizer). Renflexis will have an introductory wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of $753.39. The WAC of Remicade was $1,167.82 and Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb) was $946.28 according to Red Book July 24. WACs do not include discounts that may be paid on the products.
Renflexis was developed by Samsung Bioepis and is being marketed by Merck in the U.S. Renflexis was approved by the FDA on April 21 for the following indications: Crohn's, pediatric Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psorisis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Sales of Remicade did drop 14% year over year in the second quarter, but J&J chalked much of that decline up to the roughly $170 million in rebate adjustments in the same period last year.
The pricing schemes are unknown for the biosimilars to follow, including Sandoz's Erelzi (etanercept) and Amgen's Amjevita (adalimumab).