Boehringer Ingelheim has made a significant move in the healthcare landscape by introducing lower wholesale pricing for its adalimumab-adbm injection, an interchangeable biosimilar to AbbVie’s widely used chronic inflammatory therapy, Humira (adalimumab).
The wholesale acquisition cost of adalimumab-adbm is now set at an 81% discount compared to Humira, marking a considerable cost reduction. Boehringer Ingelheim has also taken a distinctive approach by launching a branded version of the biosimilar, known as Cyltezo, in July 2023, which is priced at a 5% discount relative to Humira.
This dual pricing strategy not only benefits patients but also contributes to the sustainability of the healthcare system. Stephen Pagnotta, the Executive Director and Biosimilar Commercial Lead at Boehringer Ingelheim, highlighted how this approach aims to enhance access to adalimumab-adbm and cater to the diverse needs of individuals with various chronic inflammatory conditions.
Importantly, adalimumab-adbm holds an interchangeability designation, signifying that there are no clinically meaningful differences between it and the reference product (Humira). This designation entails stringent requirements, including demonstrating in trials that the biosimilar can be used interchangeably with the branded product without compromising safety and efficacy.
It also provides greater flexibility for healthcare providers, as interchangeable products can be prescribed without the need for changing the prescription.
Humira, first approved in 2002 for rheumatoid arthritis, has been a cornerstone in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions. It targets the TNF-alpha cytokine, a key player in the inflammatory process. Over the years, Humira has gained approvals for multiple indications, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Despite its effectiveness, Humira’s market dominance has faced challenges due to biosimilar competition and the loss of exclusivity. In 2021, Humira generated over $20.6 billion in revenue, but its sales have gradually declined.
In 2022, its revenues dropped by 22.2% in international markets, and this trend continued in 2023, with a 25.5% decrease in total revenue during the second quarter compared to the previous year.
Boehringer Ingelheim is not alone in pursuing the Humira biosimilar market. Other companies, including Amgen, Organon and Samsung Bioepis, Coherus Biosciences, Celltrion, and Sandoz, have also launched their versions of Humira biosimilars, intensifying competition in this space.