Celltrion’s Remsima topped the sales among the five local biosimilar products released in Korea last year, industry data showed. The rest four are Celltrion’s Herzuma and Truxima, and Samsung Bioepis’ Brenzys and Renflexis.
According to IQVIA, a pharmaceutical market research firm, combined sales of the five biosimilars amounted to 18.6 billion won ($17.4 million) in 2017. The figure is a 15 percent increase, compared to 16.2 billion won in the previous year. However, there were only two biosimilars available in the market in 2016.
The leading biosimilar was Remsima, the world’s first biosimilar approved in Europe in 2013.
Referencing Remicade, Remsima posted 17.4 billion won in revenue last year, up 9.3 percent from 15.9 billion won a year earlier.
Herzuma, which copied Herceptin, sold 395 million won, and Truxima-referencing Mabthera, 140 million won, last year.
Brenzys and Renflexis, developed by Samsung Bioepis and sold by MSD, started to grow in sales.
Enbrel’s biosimilar Brenzys achieved a three-digit growth to mark 737 million won sales last year, compared to 284 million won in the previous year. Reflexis, another biosimilar copying Remicade, sold more than 6 million won.
The sales of local biosimilars are still small, compared to those of original treatments, but they have considerable growth potential because sales of originals are on a sliding path, observers said.
Among the originals, only Remicade by Janssen saw the revenue increase by 4 percent last year from a year earlier. Remicade sold 37.7 billion won in 2017.
Roche’s Herceptin sold 83.6 billion won, Roche’s Mabthera, 31.1 billion won, and Pfizer’s Enbrel, 17.8 billion won, in 2017. The sales of the three treatments went down by 19.1 percent, 16.2 percent, and 6.9 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year.
Study results have repeatedly shown domestic biosimilars have the same effectiveness as originals. Biosimilars are now appearing in biddings at large hospitals.
“Local prescriptions, which have been somewhat conservative, are changing. Large hospitals give biosimilar prescriptions, mostly to new patients, a pharmaceutical source said. “If hospitals can replace the original treatments with biosimilars, revenues of biosimilars will increase significantly in the local market.”
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