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CVS Health is staking a claim in the projected $100bn biosimilar market with the launch of a new company that will commercialise less expensive versions of blockbuster drugs.

The new wholly owned subsidiary, Corvadis, will be tasked with creating biosimilars that will help ensure a long-term supply of medication for patients at a more affordable price, CVS said in a 23 August statement.

Biosimilars are drugs that are similar to US Food and Drug Administration-approved biologics.

Corvadis is already underway in its mission, having contracted with Sandoz to commercialise and market Hyrimoz (adalimumab-adaz) – a biosimilar for AbbVie’s blockbuster Humira (adalimumab). CVS said its biosimilar, which will roll out in Q1 2024, will be 80% cheaper than the current list price of Humira.

The CVS announcement comes a few months after Cost Plus Drugs, an online pharmacy owned by US billionaire Mark Cuban, announced plans to market Coherus BioSciences’ biosimilar Yusimry (adalimumab-aqvh). At the time, the company said the price of Yusimry would be 85% cheaper than Humira. 

CVS reports that the biosimilars market in the US is expected to top $100bn in revenues by 2029, and through Corvadis it intends to develop a portfolio of products that will broaden access to biosimilars in the country. There has been a steady increase in speciality drug costs; in 2021, prescription spending for speciality drugs totalled $301m, which was a 43% rise from 2016.

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CVS Health’s chief financial officer Shawn Guertin said: “Cordavis is a logical evolution for us and will help ensure sufficient supply of biosimilars in the US and support this market now and in the future while ultimately improving health outcomes and reducing costs for consumers.”

CVS Health’s chief pharmacy officer and pharmacy and consumer wellness co-president Prem Shah said: “Biosimilars are crucial to creating competition and reducing costs for speciality pharmaceuticals where drug prices are rising the fastest.”

“Through our direct involvement, we will expand the supply chain and ensure biosimilar availability in the market. We have assembled a talented team at Cordavis and look forward to the value this business will deliver to patients and payors.”