On a wing and a payer

  • by: |
  • 02/11/2014

Excellent cover story in today’s edition of BioCentury on the February 4th FTC hearing on competitiveness issues surrounding biosimilars.

Steve Usdin calls it like he sees it – and he sees it pretty clearly.

Agendas. Agendas. Agendas.

The headline reads, Biosimilar schism.

Some choice quotes:

For years, innovator biologics manufacturers battled companies that wanted to create an American biosimilars industry, skirmishing over the scientific and legal standards for demonstrating similarity.

Now, however, the biggest conflicts are among biosimilars developers. The growing ranks of biosimilars developers and manufacturers have split roughly into two camps. One is pursuing a business model based on branded biosimilars that will require substantial investment in marketing and sales, and the other is hoping to create interchangeable biologics that could be substituted for innovator products with little or no marketing.

While supporters of the principles for state substitution laws portray them as applying equally to innovator and interchangeable products, that view was rebuffed by companies advocating for a biosimilars market that would allow them to avoid marketing costs and compete primarily on cost.

Bruce Leicher, SVP and general counsel at Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc., told FTC that the substitution principles are an effort to ask “states to join in a commercial marketing campaign to disparage interchangeable biologics.”

Notification requirements would “restrict substitution and provide notice to doctors to intervene and be concerned about FDA approved biologics,” he said. Leicher accused supporters of the state legislation proposal of attempting to blur the distinction between biosimilars and interchangeable biologics. “The notification provisions are really designed to make the point that interchangeable biologics really aren’t interchangeable, they’re different,” he said.

What Leicher doesn’t seem to understand (or what he understands but wants to purposely obfuscate) is that interchangeable biologics are different from their innovator priogenitors – but bioequivalent enough to be therapeutically interchangeable (as per the FDA).

That's not a "scare tactic," that’s just a fact. Another fact is there can be more than one winner – the most important being the patient. The FTC hearing often sounded like the Biosimilar Hunger Games.

Here’s a link to Usdin’s complete Biosimilar schism.

For more on the FTC hearing, see The Sic et Non of Biosimilars and be sure to tune in to BioCentury This Week, where Usdin will interview with Geoff Eich, Amgen’s Executive Director of R&D Policy and Craig Wheeler,  CEO of Momenta. The show will be broadcast and available on the web on Sunday


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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