Following the launch of almost 10 biosimilars of AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab) this year, 2025 will be another big year for the U.S. biosimilar market, when no less than three versions of Stelara (ustekinumab) from the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson are set to become available. Having the experience of assessing multiple competitors with varying attributes could help payers as they prepare for the launches, say industry experts.
Stelara is a human interleukin-12 (IL-12) and -23 (IL-23) antagonist indicated for the treatment of adults with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease, adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis, people at least 6 years old with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for phototherapy or systemic therapy and people at least 6 years old with active psoriatic arthritis.
As more and more high-cost therapies, including cell and gene therapies (CGTs), enter the U.S. market, commercial health plans have multiple tools at their disposal to manage these agents. Medicaid plans, however, are limited in what they can do. But a multistate value-based contracting (VBC) tool offered by Magellan Rx Management and its parent company, Prime Therapeutics LLC, is helping Medicaid programs access CGTs and ensuring that the agents’ costs are linked to patient outcomes.
A new Medicaid Pharmacy Insights report, titled The State of Value-Based Contracting: Reinventing the Current Drug Payment Model in Medicaid, notes that Medicaid is usually the largest expenditure in state budgets. States need to be able to offer costly CGTs while also managing their budgets. But various barriers to offering value-based contracts — including a lack of resources to negotiate them, as well as collect data and measure outcomes — have limited adoption of these agreements.
The FDA recently granted another approval to Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Division Taiho Oncology, Inc.’s Lonsurf (trifluridine/tipiracil) in combination with another agent for a type of colorectal cancer. The decision provides another treatment option for a condition that respondents to a Zitter Insights survey regard as in need of more effective therapies.
On Aug. 2, the FDA approved Lonsurf as a single agent or in combination with bevacizumab for the treatment of adults with metastatic colorectal cancer previously treated with fluoropyrimidine-, oxaliplatin- and irinotecan-based chemotherapy, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug and, if Rat sarcoma (RAS) wild-type, an anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) therapy. Bevacizumab originally was available as Avastin from Genentech USA, Inc., a member of the Roche Group, but now four biosimilars of it are also on the market: Celltrion USA, Inc.’s Vegzelma (bevacizumab-adcd), Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Alymsys (bevacizumab-maly), Pfizer Inc.’s Zirabev (bevacizumab-bvzr) and Amgen Inc.’s Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb).
CVS Health is getting into the biosimilars business, the company said in late August, and will officially enter the market on Jan. 1 in partnership with a Humira biosimilar. CVS stressed the importance of driving use of biosimilars and ensuring their supply, which sources say is a positive development. But one industry source questions whether the new company raises potential conflict-of-interest issues.
On Aug. 23, CVS revealed that it had launched the wholly owned subsidiary Cordavis to commercialize and/or co-produce biosimilars in collaboration with drug manufacturers. “Through Cordavis, CVS Health intends to develop a portfolio of products that it expects will facilitate broader access to biosimilars in the U.S. — creating more competition that drives down prices — while encouraging investment in future products,” said the company in a press release.
Aug. 9: The FDA gave accelerated approval to the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson’s Talvey (talquetamab-tgvs) for the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four lines of therapy, including a proteasome inhibitor, an immunomodulatory agent and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. The review was conducted under Project Orbis in collaboration with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and Switzerland’s Swissmedic; it used the Assessment Aid. The agent, a G protein-coupled receptor class C group 5 member D (GPRC5D)-directed CD3 T-cell engager, is a first-in-class bispecific antibody. Dosing of the subcutaneous injection, which is administered by a qualified health care professional, can be done weekly or biweekly. For weekly dosing, a step-up schedule consists of 0.01 mg/kg on day one, then 0.06 mg/kg on day four, then 0.4 mg/kg on day seven and then 0.4 mg/kg one week later and weekly thereafter. For biweekly dosing, administration starts at 0.01 mg/kg on day one, 0.06 mg/kg on day four, 0.4 mg/kg on day seven, then 0.8 mg/kg on day 10 and then 0.8 mg/kg two weeks later and every two weeks thereafter. The drug’s list price is $45,000 per month, and the company estimates a pricing range of $270,000 to $360,000 for an average treatment duration of six to eight months.
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