Consumer advocates in India, while gratified that there is a biosimilar version of Herceptin offered by Biocon and Mylan, are still upset that the price is too high. Biocon has indicated that the price for its CanMab is expected to be about 25% lower than the Roche medicine. According to the advocates this is still way too high for the average Indian family and won't make much of a dent toward making the drug more available in this market.
This highlights a few "truths" with biosimilars. The pundits were right to suggest that biosimilars more than likely be offered at prices 25-30% off the innovator drug, instead of the 80-90% off seen with small molecule generics. This is in large part due to the increased complexity of manufacturing with biosimilars. Biosimilars won't have automatic uptake as a result -- and even have similarity hurdles to overcome beyond that as some precribers won't recognize the sameness either.
Moreover, Roche likely made he right call in "giving up" its patent in India rather suffering the fate of having the government hand out a compulsory license. The latter situation would likely have revealed more about how to make the Roche drug and would likely put more competitors in the field with lower prices. Roche thus preserves more market share at a higher price for a longer period of time following the strategy that they did. And it was perfectly legal. See Bloomberg and The Economic Times.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Jan 21st 2014.