via Wall Street Journal
Generic drugs have long delivered huge savings over their brand-name counterparts. That isn’t likely to happen, though, with knockoff versions of some of the expensive drugs on the market today.
Rival versions of so-called biotech drugs, called biosimilars, are just starting to be released, and health insurers and drug-benefit managers say they expect them to cost nearly as much as the brand-name originals did for years.
One big reason: Pharmaceutical companies have been raising prices on biotech drugs about to lose patent protection to squeeze out more revenue before competition arrives, according to insurers, drug-benefit managers and pharmaceutical-industry consultants. And makers of the knockoffs are setting their prices just below those marked-up ones.
The main patent on Humira, a biotech that is one of the nation’s top-selling drugs, is set to expire on Dec. 31. Over the past three years, with competition looming, the maker of the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases has increased the list price eight times, by a total of 73%, to $49,362 for a year’s treatment.