Juliana Reed, MS: The Crucial Role of Biosimilars in Encouraging Competition, Lowering Costs

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In an interview with HCPLive, Juliana Reed, MS, explains the pivotal role biosimilars play in healthcare and the barriers to access and adoption.

The role of biosimilars is pivotal—it is all about fostering pre-market competition and reducing costs associated with biologic medications. In an interview with HCPLive, Juliana Reed, MS, executive director of the Biosimilars Forum, explained the pivotal role biosimilars play in healthcare, as well as the barriers to access and adoption.

Clinically, Reed said, the most significant aspect is there are currently 8 adalimumab (HUMIRA) biosimilars available. However, these biosimilars face obstacles in reaching the market and achieving uptake. Unfortunately, she explained, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are impeding access to these adalimumab biosimilars, which hinders the potential cost savings and competition these biosimilars could deliver.

“It’s a very expensive medicine, [and if patients] had access to the adalimumab biosimilars they could be saving 85%,” Reed said. “So, that is a significant clinical problem because not being able to have your medicine and save money at the same time creates fiscal hardship on the patients and their families who have to pay these high costs.”

Reed emphasized each of the 8 adalimumab biosimilars costs at least $300 million to develop and takes close to 9 years to reach the market. The developers commit substantial resources to bring cost-effective alternatives to the market, but when access is blocked, it raises concerns about the sustainability of this business model.

Although Reed has witnessed promising progress on Capitol Hill in scrutinizing PBM practices, she would like to see the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) step up and increase biosimilar uptake. Medicare currently has the lowest adoption rate of biosimilars, and she hopes to see policies favoring higher uptake to attain cost savings.

“We're excited for the future, but we encourage the PBMs to do more to lower costs for patients,” Reed concluded. “It is not about rebates, it is about competition.”