Can Mylan dodge Pfizer's Remicade woes with a low-priced Neulasta copy?

mylan
Mylan's copy of Amgen's Neulasta won FDA approval in June. (Mylan)

Mylan has disclosed the wholesale price it will put on its biosimilar of Amgen’s Neulasta—and it’s one that has the potential to transform the biosimilar landscape, industry watchers say.

The generics giant has unveiled a $4,175-per-syringe sticker, which falls not only well below Amgen’s own $6,231 sticker but its average selling price of $4,453 as well, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal pointed out in a Thursday video for investors.

Furthermore, that price is likely to be followed by big-time discounts, Gal noted.

It’s a departure from the tactic Pfizer took with Inflectra, a biosimilar of J&J’s Remicade that has failed to gain the kind of traction for which the New York pharma giant hoped. Mylan is “starting much lower than where our friends from Pfizer were” when Inflectra first rolled out, Gal said, adding that “the biosimilar Remicade strategy of starting high and then going down step by step to do price discovery essentially failed.”

RELATED: Pfizer is falling short in a competitive market, Johnson & Johnson says as it hits back at Remicade biosimilar suit

While Mylan might have learned a lesson from Pfizer’s example, the fact that Neulasta biosimilar competition is on the way likely also factored into its pricing decision, Gal figures. With Coherus expected to launch its version before the end of the year and Apotex and Novartis’ Sandoz also readying their copes, “this is likely to become a faster competitive market.” Gal said. That means “Mylan does not have a ton of time” to snap up share ahead of its rivals.

If Mylan’s pricing strategy doesn’t yield the kind of uptake it’s hoping for, however, it could be a bad sign for the entire biosimilar field, the way Gal sees it.

Already, companies unimpressed with the drugs’ traction are dropping out of development. And since Neulasta “should be one of the easiest biosimilars to be adopted”—thanks to its short-term treatments, efficacy in “essentially every patient” and lack of major safety issues—if Mylan can’t come up with a commercial win, biosimilars “would be a failed market,” Gal said.

“We’ll see if it’s successful, but what we’ve seen here today is kind of like the shot that will determine if the biosimilar enterprise in the U.S. will succeed or fail,” he added.

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