Biosimilars are copies of biological reference medicines. Unlike generics (copies of chemical molecules), biologics are complex, expensive and complicated to produce. The knowledge of the factors affecting the competition following patent expiry for biologics remains limited.Objectives
The aims of this study were to analyse the EU-5 Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) markets and to determine the factors affecting the G-CSF biosimilar uptakes, particularly that of biosimilar prices relative to originators.Methods
Data on medicine volumes, values, and ex-manufacturer prices for all G-CSF categories were provided by IMS Health. Volumes were calculated in defined daily doses (DDD) and prices in Euros per DDD. In the EU-5 countries, there is 5 years of experience with biosimilar G-CSFs (2007-2011).Results
Two G-CSF market profiles exist: (1) countries with a high retail market distribution, which are the largest G-CSF markets with low global G-CSF biosimilar uptakes (5.4 % in France and 8.5 % in Germany in 2011); and (2) countries with a dominant hospital channel, which are the smallest markets with higher G-CSF biosimilar uptakes (12.4 % in Spain and 20.4 % in the UK). The more the decisions are decentralized, the more their uptakes are high. The price difference between G-CSF biosimilars and their reference plays a marginal role at a global level (price differences of +13.3 % in the UK and -20.4 % in France).Conclusion
The competition with G-CSF biosimilars varies significantly between EU-5 countries, probably because of G-CSF distribution channel differences. Currently, this competition is not mainly based on prices, but on local political options to stimulate tendering between them and recently branded second- or third-generation products.