Pfizer, which is struggling to build traction for its Remicade biosimilar in the U.S., has some new data it hopes can make a difference in building sales for its Inflectra.
The Big Pharma and its partner Celltrion today released data in a phase 3, head-to-head trial comparing their Inflectra biosimilar against Remicade in biologic-naïve patients with active Crohn’s Disease, showing that patients switched to Inflectra essentially did as well as they had on the Johnson & Johnson powerhouse drug. In addition to effectiveness, the safety profile also was similar.
“Today’s announcement further highlights Pfizer’s commitment to biosimilars and provides additional evidence supporting use of Inflectra in Crohn’s disease,” Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer Sam Azoulay, said in a statement.
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Pfizer and Merck & Co., both market Remicade biosimilars, but since its launch a year ago, Pfizer hasn't gained ground with Inflectra. The company recently sued Johnson & Johnson over its "exclusionary contracts" on Remicade that Pfizer argues are anticompetitive.
Pfizer reports earnings tomorrow, but through Q2, its biosimilar had generated just $172 million in global sales and only $40 million in the U.S. That compared to $2.24 billion in the market this year for J&J's Remicade.
J&J has shrugged off the litigation, saying that Pfizer’s product just doesn’t offer what doctors want for their patients. And with its third-quarter earnings, J&J reported very little erosion to the $7 billion a year drug behemoth.
Remicade's sales fell to $1.2 billion in Q3 compared to the the same quarter a year ago, just a 1.3% slip despite heavy discounting by Pfizer and Merck for their biosimilars. J&J got ahead of the biosimilar threat by locking in a number of exclusive contracts that offered payers big price cuts. Pharma head Joaquin Duato told investors on an earnings call that the company intends to continue to "compete vigorously on price."