In a bit to challenge the market dominance of AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab), the online pharmacy Cost Plus Drugs, owned by billionaire Mark Cuban has announced a plan to market Coherus BioSciences’ biosimilar Yusimry (adalimumab-aqvh),.
Cost Plus Drugs will be offering Yusimry at $569 per unit, excluding shipping and dispensing charges. According to GlobalData’s drug pricing database, this would be 84% cheaper than a 40mg pre-filled syringe of Humira ($3,461), as per a 1 June announcement.
GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.
Alex Oshmyansky, co-founder and CEO of MCCPDC, touted this announcement as a victory for consumers. He believed that Yusimry could help disrupt the high-cost biologic space, particularly for the under and uninsured.
Yusimry is a biosimilar version of the Humira, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker. It is intended to treat various forms of arthritis, as well as Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.
The market for Humira biosimilars
Humira is the world’s best selling drug, due to its wide range of approved uses. As per AbbVie’s financial reports, Humira boasted a global net revenue of over $21bn in 2022. With such a tight grip on the market, AbbVie has come under heavy criticism for repeated price hikes on Humira and avoiding competition from biosimilar manufacturers with an aggressive patent strategy.
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After its European Union (EU) patent expired in 2018, Humira faced competition from the likes of Samsung Bioepis, hoping to carve out its own piece of the market.
But now the race has begun across the Atlantic. Earlier this year AbbVie’s US patent for Humira expired, paving the way for biosimilars to enter a lucrative market. Amgen was first to market with its Amjevita biosimilar launching in January. Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Samsung Bioepis and Organon, Biocon and Sandoz are also expected to launch their own Humira biosimilars later this year.
According to GlobalData’s drug pricing database, Amjevita’s $3,288 for a 40mg pre filled syringe is only marginally cheaper than Humira– and nearly six times more expensive than Yusimry.
Its unclear how well Cost Plus Drugs will fare against traditional pharma. Launched early last year, the online pharmacy aimed to “shield consumers from inflated drug prices”, as per a company press release.
The company applies a flat 15% markup on wholesale prices, plus shipping and dispensing costs. However, it falls flat in providing for insured customers. While drugs may theoretically be more expensive from other suppliers, health insurance providers are still able to negotiate lower prices than the Cost Plus Drugs Company in many cases.