Biosimilars Forum’s Public Letter In Response to Anti-Biosimilars Op-Ed

Government Should Not “Throw In the Towel on Biosimilars,” They Should Act Now to Unlock Billions in Savings

WASHINGTON — In response to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the biologics market is a natural monopoly and that policymakers should give up on biosimilars, the Biosimilars Forum released the following open letter:

At a time when the number one concern of Americans is rising health care costs, the idea it’s time to “Time to Throw in the Towel on Biosimilars” is harmful and it would cost the U.S. as much as $71 billion in health care savings for seniors and taxpayers.

Biologic drugs are the single biggest driver of drug spending in Medicare and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Biosimilars are a proven, safe and effective alternative to treating life’s most challenging diseases but at one-third less the cost. Biosimilars are the next generation of generic drugs. And just as an influx of generics created trillions in savings over the last 30 years – $293 billion last year alone – so will increased competition from biosimilars.

However, as former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “abuses of the system that impede competition” are locking patients into biologics and blocking their access to biosimilars. The answer to this cannot be to further block patient choice with negative policies like arbitrary price controls.

Current policies are distorted to disincentivize lower-cost biosimilars. While changing them is a common-sense solution to deliver savings, instituting price controls for biologics already on the market is not. We know from experience the claim that biosimilar competition won’t lower costs is flatly untrue.

Competition spurs innovation and consumer choice, and limits monopolies. The European marketplace took proactive measures to drive uptake of biosimilars – and it worked. Biosimilars have already saved billions of dollars in Europe.

Europe’s experience shows that biosimilars provide real savings. This is possible in the U.S., too, but we must fix the misaligned incentives. We have to make the market work in a way that delivers direct savings to patients – not eliminate entire innovative marketplaces.

We cannot give up on a biosimilars marketplace in the U.S., or we risk losing billions in savings. As policymakers look for ways to lower health care costs, they must prioritize proactive changes that will put money directly back into patients’ pockets.