U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Signs Contract with Merck for its Remicade Biosimilar

National contract was won due to its attractive pricing offer.

Competition is stiff among the few biosimilars approved for sale in the United States. Johnson & Johnson’s branded arthritis drug Remicade (infliximab) is fighting against Pfizer’s biosimilar offering Inflectra and Merck’s Renflexis biosimilar, which was launched in April 2017.

The bulk of Pfizer’s sales of Inflectra have been to closed healthcare systems in which the insurer and provider are the same entity. Drug pricing dynamics make biosimilars more attractive to “highly integrated systems” that prioritize healthcare savings over short-term rebating, according to Pfizer.

Merck is now entering into this space. It recently announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has signed a national contract for Renflexis due to its competitive pricing offer. 

No financial details about the contract were revealed, but when Merck launched Renflexis, the company indicated it would provide a 35% list price discount to the original drug. Renflexis is manufactured for Merck by South Korea’s Samsung Bioepis, and the two companies co-market the biosimilar.

According to Dr. Michael Valentino, chief consultant for Pharmacy Benefits Management at the VA, the contract is “consistent with VA’s goal of providing quality treatment options while optimizing resources in the care of veterans.”

 

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