Hospitals in England spend more on adalimumab than any other single medication, and now its patent has expired officials want doctors to consider swapping to biosimilars to gain up to £150m a year of savings.
Adalimumab (Humira, AbbVie) is an anti-TNF monoclonal antibody used to treat Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and uveitis. It is administered by subcutaneous injection and NHS England says it is currently used by more than 46,000 patients.
Now the exclusive patent for adalimumab has expired up to four biosimilars are expected to be available from December although the use of Humira may continue where clinically appropriate and where it is best value.
Pharmaceutical companies currently have until October 22nd to hand in documentation about their product and its price. No one supplier of an adalimumab biosimilar is expected to be chosen, to avoid market dominance.
The four biosimilars are:
Two further biosimilars are expected to become available in the UK next year, Cyltezo (Boehringer Ingelheim) and a product by Fresenius Kabi.
According to new guidance issued by NHS England:
9 out of 10 new patients should be started on the best value medicine within 3 months of a biosimilar launch.
At least 80% of existing patients should be switched to the best value biologic (be it the originator or a biosimilar) within 12 months.
Andrew Davies, NHS Improvement’s director of hospital pharmacy, said: “The launch of biosimilar adalimumab will be the fifth major class of biosimilar launched for wider NHS use, and preparations have been put in place to make sure that more patients are able to receive this treatment as quickly as possible.”
In a joint statement The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society, Psoriasis Association, and Crohn’s & Colitis UK said: “We welcome the increased availability of effective treatment options for patients and understand the importance of the wise and careful use of NHS resources.
“Our organisations have been working to provide patient information and support since 2014 and are familiar with the evidence to date which reinforces the fact that biosimilars are as safe and effective as the reference products. The introduction of biosimilars for adalimumab brings opportunities for both patients and the NHS.”