IQVIA: Biosimilars on track to reduce drug costs by $100b over next five years

But volume and price dynamics remain volatile and uncertainty remains


Biosimilar medicine availability and use are growing and on track to reduce drug costs by $100 billion over the next five years, according to a new report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

The development and approvals of biosimilars have been accelerating in the U.S. over the past two years, bringing a total of 33 approvals across 13 molecules through the 2020 second quarter. Only 22 of these have launched thus far due to legal challenges and commercial agreements.

An additional 108 biosimilars are in development across 22 other molecules and will potentially reach the U.S. market within the next 10 years.

“Contrary to some predictions, biosimilars are not a failed concept; they are in fact becoming a growing part of affordable treatment options available to payers, physicians and patients,” said Murray Aitken, IQVIA senior vice president and executive director of the institute. “It is our estimate that biosimilars could reach $80 billion in aggregate sales over the next five years, including $16 billion to $36 billion in 2024.”

Recent biosimilar launches of bevacizumab, trastuzumab and rituximab are set to reach nearly 60 percent volume share by the end of their second year on the market, significantly higher and faster than prior biosimilars.

The growing willingness by stakeholders across the U.S. to adopt biosimilars is confounded by an extreme heterogeneity across provider groups where biosimilar usage ranges from 0 percent to 100 percent, according to IQVIA.

The differences reflect contracting approaches by manufacturers and providers, and prescriber willingness to adopt biosimilars including the associated issues with changing patient treatment protocols.

Key highlights of the report include:

  • Savings enabled by the presence of biosimilars are modeled to exceed $100 billion in aggregate over the next five years, though volume and price dynamics remain volatile and significant uncertainty remains.
  • Price declines for biosimilars significantly vary but are in line with prior IQVIA assumptions of roughly 30 percent discounts. Higher discounts have occurred for many biosimilars, and an increase in the average discount is possible in the future. (IQVIA reported on the overall effects of discounting on pricing in the pharmaceutical sector in its Global Medicine Spending and Usage Trends report released in March.)
  • The introduction of biosimilars in some cases has triggered 2 percent to 4 percent incremental demand for the molecules, bringing biologic treatments to more patients.
  • Patients benefit from the use of biosimilars in the form of lower out-of-pocket costs, depending on their insurance plan design.
  • In the case of insulins, patients with Medicare Part D and commercial insurance are saving an average of about $18 and $13 per prescription, respectively, when using a biosimilar insulin.
  • Patients who are typically responsible for 20 percent of Medicare Part B costs are benefiting from the lower average sales price of $500 to $1,900 for a standard course of treatment for the three most recently launched biosimilars.
  • Large pharmaceutical companies, often with existing innovative biologic portfolios, lead the marketing of biosimilars, while the smaller companies that are developing biosimilars are likely to license products to the larger companies for marketing.

The study was produced independently without industry or government funding, according to IQVIA. The full version of the report, including a detailed description of the methodology, is available from the institute.