Pfizer increases their challenge to Roche with new discounted biosimilar launch

Pfizer is launching three Roche cancer blockbusters generics at discounts ranging from 22% to 24%. Pfizer is eyeing the lucrative combined $10bn that the three drugs accumulated at their peaks. With Pfizer having already rolled out its biosimilars to Roche’s Avastin and Rituxan at discounts of 23% and 24% respectively. The pharma company has now announced its plans to launch its biosimilar to Trazimera at a 22% discount on the February 15th.

Pfizer has always been an active player in the biosimilar market and with this recent announcement it will be the first company to market three oncology monoclonal antibody biosimilars in the US. However not all of Pfizers biosimilar releases have been met with success, with its 2016 launch of Inflectra (a biosimilar to J&Js blockbuster immunology med Remicade) coming to a spluttering start as it could not gain any traction against competition.

Pfizer consequently sued J&J for making “anti-competitive” deals with payers that blocked out biosimilar competition. With Pfizer claiming that Roche tied rebations of Remicide to payers provided they did not use biosimilars. US sales have picked up since for the biosimilar reaching $280 million in the first nine months of 2019, but this pales in comparison to the $2.32bn take-in for Remicade over the same span.

Since that rollout, Pfizer has managed to gain some success as it launched Retacrit, a biosim to J&Js Procrit, at a 33% discount. With Retacrit gaining a 16% market share, the most of any biosim in the US. Pfizer stated that this experience gave them the opportunity to learn what it takes to launch an oncological biosimilar as well as what to expect in that space.

It will be a tough challenge for Pfizer as it enters the Roche biosimilar market, with there already being competition from the Teva-Celltrion team for Rituxan and competition for Avastin against Amgen and Allergan.

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