Decision Resources: Biosimilars may cause biotech companies to lose more than $9 billion

WALTHAM, Mass. Biotech companies that manufacture a class of drugs used to treat autoimmune disorders stand to lose more than $9 billion in Europe and the United States by 2018 thanks to competition from biosimilars, according to a report.

According to the report, Biosimilars: TNF-Alpha Inhibitors and Interferon-Alphas in Immune and Infectious Diseases, by healthcare research and advisory firm Decision Resources, biosimilars of tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors will cause sales of the originals to erode by $9.6 billion while saving healthcare systems $4 billion.

TNF-alpha inhibitors include Enbrel (etanercept), by Amgen and Eli Lilly & Co., Abbott’s Humira (adalimumab) and Remicade (infliximab), by Johnson & Johnson’s Centocor Ortho Biotech division and Schering-Plough Corp., now part of Merck & Co.  The drugs work by suppressing TNF-alpha, a protein that usually fights cancer, but can also attack the body itself and cause inflammatory autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

“Sales associated with TNF-alpha inhibitors make these agents an attractive target for biosimilar manufacturers, while the cost of TNF-alpha inhibitor therapy makes this drug class a priority for payers looking to reduce spend,” Decision Resources analyst MaryEllen Klusacek said in a statement. “We expect rheumatoid arthritis, the largest indication fuelling growth of the TNF-alpha inhibitor market, will be the first indication targeted by biosimilar developers.”