Samsung's Benepali biosimilar wins first EU sales in Norway

Norway became the first overseas country to approve the Enbrel biosimilar made by Samsung Bioepis for sale, coming two weeks after the drug, Benepali, was approved by the European Commission.

The move steps up competition for Amgen ($AMGN), which makes Enbrel, and for other pharma companies around the globe as the biosimilar market starts to take off.

Known scientifically as etanercept, Norway's medicines agency said last week that Samsung's Benepali will be sold for 47% less than Enbrel in Norway through Samsung's European marketing partner Biogen, according to a report in the Korea Herald.

Benepali is also expected to be used by the state hospitals in Norway as the country, like many others around the world, tries to cut national healthcare costs by using generics and biosimilars that can save millions of dollars compared to using brand-name drugs.

Sources told the Korea Herald that the biosimilar from Samsung Bioepis "would pose a direct threat to the sales of Enbrel in the country and other European markets in the future," the paper reported. Enbrel, marketed by Pfizer ($PFE) in Europe, saw sales last year worth about $2.5 billion and in Norway alone sales reached $58 million, the Korea Herald reported.

Pfizer is said to be so concerned about defending its share of the market that it is offering discounts on Enbrel.

- here's the story from the Korea Herald

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