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Unleashing the potential of biosimilars to enable the sustainability of European healthcare systems – POLITICO


Dan Cohen, Vice President and Head of Biosimilars Unit for Europe, Canada and Partner Markets at Biogen

The global biologic drug market was valued at over $338 billion in 2021[1] and represents 27% of the global pharmaceutical market by value[2][3]. This figure continues to grow at a significant rate[4].

In Europe, biologics account for 34% of drug spending at list prices and reached €78.6 billion in 2021.[5] This percentage varies considerably from one European country to another. Managing this segment and its growth therefore becomes a necessity for sustainable health systems. The total European market for biosimilars reached €8.8 billion in 2021[6]representing 3% of the total European pharmaceutical value[7][8].

Dan Cohen, Biogen’s Vice President and Head of Biosimilars Unit for Europe, Canada and Partner Markets, explores how biosimilars are critical to protecting future healthcare innovation and why their adoption can ease the burden on health care systems by providing cost savings and promoting earlier and better access to therapies.

Mr. Cohen, you represent one of the main suppliers of biosimilars in Europe. What are your thoughts on the biosimilar journey in Europe?

“Europe is at the forefront of the biosimilars opportunity. From a patient perspective, we have seen increased access to biologics in several countries, in addition to billions in savings at a time when budgets remain constrained by COVID-19. At Biogen, we are proud to have partnered with healthcare systems across Europe. In 2021, Biogen alone generated 2.6 billion euros in savings[9]. For me, reinvesting savings in improving care and expanding patient access to treatment is the essence of the biosimilars value proposition. Going forward, there are many disease areas with unmet needs that would benefit from biosimilars.

Reinvesting savings in improving care and expanding patient access to treatment is the essence of the biosimilars value proposition.

Can you tell us more about the benefits that biosimilars have brought to patients and our healthcare systems?

“Biosimilars are key components of a sustainable healthcare system. As a more cost effective treatment option than their gold standard biologics[10], biosimilars allow more patients to be treated while saving money that can be invested in innovation and additional services. Additionally, they can also provide financial relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health systems have saved billions of euros thanks to biosimilars, even though they now represent only 3% of the total European pharmaceutical market by value[11][12]. By stimulating competition, biosimilars have had a significant impact on the market which will continue to grow.

Why is the potential of biosimilars not yet fully exploited? What challenges have you identified and how can they be overcome?

“Biosimilars help us move towards a more sustainable healthcare model. However, effective supply and incentives for prescribers are critical barriers. Additional advocacy and effective incentives and support for prescribers are needed. Payers and providers should align on common goals to drive uptake of biosimilars, while maintaining physician and patient choice. The long-term viability of the system may be threatened if physician choice is removed by automatic pharmacy substitution without the intervention of a prescriber. Indeed, due to the complexity of biosimilar treatments and their associated administration devices, automatic pharmacy substitution could affect patient compliance with treatment and even compromise traceability and pharmacovigilance.

“Then, as more and more molecules lose their exclusivity, we need to ensure that regulatory approval processes support biosimilar competition. Current processes have been effective so far, but they can lead to significant delays. in approval as more biosimilars are developed It is very important that the regulatory process is efficient and properly resourced to make the most of the biosimilars opportunity.

A more cost-effective treatment option than their gold standard biologics, biosimilars make it possible to treat more patients.

We talk a lot about sustainability today what does this mean for the healthcare industry and what role do biosimilars play?

“In healthcare, ‘sustainability’ is a journey where all stakeholders ideally operate effectively. This involves creating a system that benefits all stakeholders while focusing on patients, ultimately ensuring the sustainability of the system itself.

“Sustainability is a question of balance. Balance between price discounts and adoption support policies, between price competition and non-price tender criteria, but also between different stakeholders. Biosimilars can balance pharmaceutical expenditures, unlock savings for future innovation, and ultimately improve patient access.

“It is also essential that the whole system continues to encourage sustainable investments in the market across Europe. The increased speed of price erosion of biosimilars launched in Europe further reinforces the requirements of criteria beyond price to become more of a priority in the agenda and the weighting of decisions on preferred suppliers. Ultimately, we need to ensure that we get the optimal patient experience, including continuity of supply and support services to sustain over the long term.

Biosimilars can balance pharmaceutical expenditures, unlock savings for future innovation, and ultimately improve patient access.

What is the role of policy makers? What could they do to help European healthcare systems maximize the benefits of introducing biosimilars?

“The sustainability of biosimilars is an important part of the overall sustainability of healthcare systems. Given the EU Pharmaceutical Strategy’s focus on improving access to biosimilars, we support upcoming policies designed to boost biosimilar competition.[13].

“Policymakers and payers must ensure that price dynamics are driven by competition, rather than mandated price cuts, to ensure consistent price erosion among competitors. Therefore, we need supply rules with sufficient guaranteed volume to allow multiple winners. “Awareness and education are the foundation of all policies: stakeholders must publicly defend the benefits achieved, such as the number of additional patients treated, new equipment purchased or the magnitude of overall savings to be reinvested. The more we all track, calculate and communicate about the positive impact of biosimilars, the more effectively we can encourage their use and promote sustainable competition that will deliver long-term value.


[1] Global Biologics Market Report 2022 thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/biologics-global-market-report Accessed September 2022

[2] Global Pharmaceuticals Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030 https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5292738/pharmaceuticals-global-market-report-2021 – accessed September 2022

[3] Global Biologics Market Report 2022 thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/biologics-global-market-report Accessed September 2022

[4] IQVIA The Impact of Biosimilar Competition in Europe 2021 https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/library/white-papers/the-impact-of-biosimilar-competition-in-europe-2021 .pdf accessed September 2022

[5] IQVIA The Impact of Biosimilar Competition in Europe 2021 https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/library/white-papers/the-impact-of-biosimilar-competition-in-europe-2021 .pdf accessed September 2022

[6] IQVIA The Impact of Biosimilar Competition in Europe 2021 https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/library/white-papers/the-impact-of-biosimilar-competition-in-europe-2021.pdf accessed September 2022

[7] Europe Pharmaceutical Market Size, Share and Trend Analysis Report by Product (Branded, Generic), by Type (Prescription, OTC), by Therapeutic Class, by Region and Segment Forecast, 2021-2028 https://www.grandviewresearch.com/analysis-industry/pharmaceutical-market-report-europe accessed September 2022

[8] IQVIA The Impact of Biosimilar Competition in Europe 2021 https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/library/white-papers/the-impact-of-biosimilar-competition-in-europe-2021 .pdf accessed September 2022

[9] Biogen Q4 2021 Financial & Business Results https://investors.biogen.com/static-files/019bc8a4-527e-4565-a58b-91ef680630c1 accessed September 2022

[10] The cost-effectiveness of biosimilars and their future potential for the NHS, https://blogs.deloitte.co.uk/health/2021/05/the-cost-effectiveness-of-biosimilars-and-their-future-potential – for-the-nhs.html accessed October 2022

[11] IQVIA The Impact of Biosimilar Competition in Europe 2021 https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/library/white-papers/the-impact-of-biosimilar-competition-in-europe-2021 .pdf accessed September 2022

[12] Europe Pharmaceutical Market Size, Share and Trend Analysis Report by Product (Branded, Generic), by Type (Prescription, OTC), by Therapeutic Class, by Region and Segment Forecast, 2021-2028 https://www.grandviewresearch.com/analysis-industry/pharmaceutical-market-report-europe accessed September 2022

[13] Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe 2020 https://health.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2021-02/pharma-strategy_report_en_0.pdf accessed September 2022



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