Apr 16, 2024 - Health

Humira biosimilar scripts take off

A picture of the Humira packaging.

Photo: Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Prescribing of biosimilars for AbbVie's blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira surged just over a week following a change in drug coverage by CVS Health.

Why it matters: It marked one of the first major efforts to push biosimilar adoption, Evercore ISI analyst Elizabeth Anderson told Axios.

Driving the news: CVS Health on April 1 changed its formularies to drop coverage of Humira for lower-cost biological alternatives.

  • Humira biosimilars made up roughly 5% of the market as of March 29, Anderson wrote in a note.
  • But by April 5, Humira biosimilars shares were up to 36%. "It really took a pretty dramatic step up," Anderson said.

Flashback: Humira has long enjoyed patent protection and AbbVie posted $21.2 billion in revenue from the drug in 2022, before cheaper versions hit the market.

  • The question always was how quickly PBMs would adopt the cheaper copycats.

Zoom in: In April, Sandoz's biosimilar known as Hyrimoz contributed to roughly 93% of all new prescriptions of Humira biosimilars.

  • CVS' Cordavis unit began to co-brand Hyrimoz with Sandoz earlier this year.

The bottom line: It's only one week of data and "one week does not a trend make," Anderson warned.

  • But, she said: "There's nothing else that I can see that would point to this level of increase from one week to the next besides this. It's definitely a trend that we will keep watching."
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