Boehringer Ingelheim launches first interchangeable biosimilar to AbbVie's Humira

Another Humira biosimilar is here in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Cyltezo. Among the swarm of copycats, BI’s offering stands out because of its interchangeability tag, allowing it to be directly substituted for AbbVie’s original Humira at the pharmacy counter.

The interchangeability tag is the result of a phase 3 switching study, in which patients were switched multiple times between Humira and Cyltezo. The trial showed similar efficacy and comparable safety between the two offerings.

“Cyltezo reinforces our ultimate goal of providing a more affordable and accessible treatment option for this community, and we look forward to seeing the impact it will have across the U.S,” Boehringer’s biosimilar commercial lead Stephen Pagnotta said in the company’s recent release.

Cyltezo scored its interchangeability approval in 2021 and is available in prefilled syringe and pen autoinjector forms. Nearly 500 staffers at Boehringer's Freemont, California, manufacturing site have spent the last six months gearing up for the launch, Pagnotta told Fierce Pharma over email.

For now, Boehringer will price the med 5% to 7% below Humira’s list price but “recognizes the potential benefits of a two-price strategy” and will go that route in 2024, according to Pagnotta. Humira's list price currently stands at $6,653 per month, according to GoodRx.

When Boehringer decides to follow the "two-price strategy," it will be following Amgen's lead after that company launched its Humira copycat, Amjevita, in January. Amgen launched its biosimilar at two price points, one at 55% below Humira's list price and another at a 5% discount. 

While the sharper discount looks to be a better option, history shows that the more expensive version might end up more popular with payers due to the higher rebates associated with the costlier option.

For example, when Biocon and Viatris launched their interchangeable insulin biosimilar, Semglee, with two different prices, many payers didn’t even offer the lower-priced version. 

Meanwhile, Biocon, which recently took over Viatris' biosimilar portfolio, is doing the same with its newly launched Humira biosimilar, Hulio. That option will launch with one price point 5% below Humira's and another at an 85% discount. 

Cyltezo and Hulio join the list of nine total Humira biosimilars entering the market this year, most of which share the same commercial launch date of July 1.

Amgen’s Amjevita took the first swing but has seen slow uptake so far. The company is expecting a sales decline from its $51 million first-quarter haul during the second quarter.

Other Humira biosimilar options will come from Novartis’ Sandoz, Organon, Pfizer, Coherus and Fresenius Kabi. Coherus was recently embroiled in back-and-forth with AbbVie for its spot on Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co.’s list of sharply discounted products, but the two have since resolved the dispute.