RA Issues: Cost & Biosimilars
A growing issue with RA therapy is the cost of treatment. Medicaid spending on biologics between 2013–2017 increased from $894 million to $3.1 billion, and Medicare spending between 2012–2017 increased from $4.3 billion to $10 billion, with only a modest increase in the number of patients being treated.8,9
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One potential solution for the cost crisis in drug spending may be biosimilars. “Remarkable savings” have been seen in Europe with biosimilars, Dr. Weinblatt said. Although it’s unclear what the U.S. biosimilar market will look like, they could offer more cost-effective options for patients and physicians.
“We want the option to treat the patients that are appropriate with the drugs that are appropriate,” Dr. Weinblatt said. “Cost barriers are increasing, and the prior authorization process is becoming even more difficult. I hope biosimilars will give patients and rheumatologists the opportunity to prescribe the appropriate drugs without the current prior authorization hassles. We have made remarkable strides in the care of patients with RA, and we want this to continue.”
Kimberly Retzlaff is a freelance medical journalist based in Denver.
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- XELJANZ XR (tofacitinib): Increased risk of death/blood clots. Important safety information.
- Xeljanz to be used with caution for all patients at high risk of blood clots. European Medicines Agency. 2019 Oct 31.
- Dalal D, Zhang T, Shireman T. Medicaid spending (2013–2017) on disease modifying agents commonly used in rheumatoid arthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2019;71(suppl 10).
- Dalal D, Zhang T, Shireman T. Medicare spending (2012–2017) on disease modifying agents commonly used in rheumatoid arthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2019;71(suppl 10).