Tackling biosimilars – how to handle the threat to pharma brands

Mark Assenti | 23rd September 2015

For the last five years, the pharmaceutical industry as a whole has had to contend with a large number of blockbuster products coming off patent in what has become known as the ‘Patent Cliff’. Representing millions in lost profits, the Patent Cliff was (and continues to be) a major challenge for pharma brands. The crux of the challenge lies in the creation and availability of ‘biosimilars’; biologic drugs which are copies of the previously patented, original biologic drugs. These biosimilars are often cheaper (usually up to around 30% cheaper), and because they are nearly identical to the original, no longer patented, drugs, they are very attractive to payers. Recently, Blue Latitude worked with a global pharmaceutical brand to develop a strategy for dealing with the introduction of biosimilars to the market. Their product, a treatment in the gastroenterology therapy area, had recently come off patent and a biosimilar was about to launch. Strategy Consultant Mark Assenti talks through three key points for developing a strategy to tackle biosimilars.

1. Biosimilars are just another competitor – be proactive about positioning

While biologic drugs in and of themselves have only been around for about 25 years, making biosimilars a very new kind of competitor, they are just that – another competitor. Organisations producing biosimilars will always look to prove that their molecule is as similar as possible to the original, promoting the interchangeability of the two drugs. But how similar can they be? Biologic drugs are incredibly complex to make, and it is not possible to replicate the exact molecule that has come off patent. Therefore, while the biosimilar drugs may be very similar, they will never be identical. What does this mean for brands? Be proactive in positioning your competitors, whether biosimilar or not. Act as early as possible, running positioning campaigns pre-launch in order to place the competitor favourably for YOU in the treatment pathway.  


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