Biosimilar drugs promise to slash health-care costs in rich countries

“IT’S THE prices, stupid.” That simple assessment of America’s wildly expensive health-care system was made 15 years ago by Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist who died last year. Health costs as a proportion of America’s economic output have soared since, from 14.5% in 2003 to over 17% in 2017, with drug-price inflation a big culprit. Less than 2% of Americans are treated with specialty biotech drugs, but these account for as much as 35% of total drug spending.

The good news is that cheaper biotech drugs are coming. Known as biosimilars, these complex copycat drugs (which are a bit like generics) have been allowed in Europe since 2004 and in America since 2010. At first, owing to policy roadblocks and anti-competitive tactics by incumbents, only a few came to market. But the firms that make them, which range from biotech giants to scrappy upstarts, are turning the trickle into a torrent.

Consider Humira, a biotech drug made by America’s AbbVie that treats...



via Business Feeds

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