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S. Korean Biosimilar Drugs Help Reduce Medical Expenses in U.K.
Biosimilars Reduce Medical Costs
S. Korean Biosimilar Drugs Help Reduce Medical Expenses in U.K.
  • By Choi Moon-hee
  • September 16, 2019, 12:14
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South Korean biosimilar drugs help reduce medical expenses in the United Kingdom. 

South Korean biosimilar drugs are contributing to medical expense reduction in the United Kingdom. These drugs are the same as original medicines in efficacy and safety but are more than 30 percent cheaper.

The expenses for medicines and medical supplies fell 294 million pounds (US$367.32 million or 434.84 billion won) in the United Kingdom last year, with 84 percent, or 247 million pounds (US$308.54 million or 365.43 billion won) coming from biosimilar drugs, according to the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) on Sept. 15. Samsung Bioepis Co. and Celltrion Inc., the two leading biosimilar producers in South Korea, currently sell four and three kinds of biosimilars in the United Kingdom, respectively.

Out of the total, Samsung Bioepis’ Imraldi had the biggest medical cost reduction effect. With the introduction of the product, British health authorities said the country had saved 109.67 million pounds (US$136.95 million or 162.35 billion won) of costs from last year until recently. Imraldi is a biosimilar for Humira (adalimumab) developed b multinational pharmaceutical firm AbbVie Inc. Imraldi had a 29 percent share of the British market as of June, raking first among biosimilar products, according to medical information service provider IQVIA. Samsung Bioepis outperformed global leading multinational pharmaceutical firms, such as Amgen Inc., Sandoz Inc. and Mylan N.V., in a month after it released Imraldi in the European market in October last year, and it now ranks first in terms of market share in the European market.

Celltrion’s Truxima (rituximab) saved 45.17 million pounds (US$56.40 million or 66.82 billion won) worth of medical expenses in the United Kingdom as it was cheaper than Roche Holding AG's Rituxan, the original drug for treating non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Samsung Bioepis’ another biosimilar Benepali (etanercept) also saved 36.07 million pounds (US$45.04 million or 53.37 billion won) worth of medical costs in the local market since it had been rapidly encroaching on the market of Enbrel, the original medicine developed by Novartis AG.

The U.K.’s NHS is encouraging doctors to prescribe biosimilar or generic drugs for autoimmune and neoplastic diseases to lower medical expenses. It expects that the country’s medical expenses will fall 400 million pounds (US$499.38 million or 591.56 billion won) every year until 2021 through prescription of generic and biosimilar drugs.