Economic Impact of Non-Medical Switching from Originator Biologics to Biosimilars: A Systematic Literature Review

Advances in Therapy, 2019


A systematic literature review was conducted to review and summarize the economic impact of non-medical switching (NMS) from biologic originators to their biosimilars (i.e., switching a patient's medication for reasons irrelevant to the patient's health).


English publications reporting healthcare resource utilization (HRU) or costs associated with biosimilar NMS were searched in PubMed and EMBASE over the past 10 years and from selected scientific conferences over the past 3 years, along with gray literature for all biologics with an approved biosimilar (e.g., tumor-necrosis factor inhibitors, erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, insulin and hormone therapies).


A total of 1311 publications were retrieved, where 54 studies met the selection criteria. Seventeen studies reported increased real-world HRU or costs related to biosimilar NMS, e.g., higher rates of surgery (11%), steroid use (13%) and biosimilar dose escalating (6-35.4%). Among the studies that the estimated cost impact associated with NMS, 33 reported drug costs reduction, 12 reported healthcare costs post-NMS without a detailed breakdown, and 5 reported NMS setup and managing costs. Cost estimation/simulation studies demonstrated the cost reduction associated with NMS. However, variation across studies was substantial because of heterogeneity in study designs and assumptions (e.g., disease areas, scenarios of drug price discount rates, cost components, population size, study period, etc.).


Real-world studies reporting the economic impact of biosimilar NMS separately from drug costs are emerging, and those that reported such results found increased HRU in patients with biosimilar NMS. Studies of cost estimation have been largely limited to drug prices. Comprehensive evaluation of the economic impact of NMS should incorporate all important elements of healthcare service needs such as drug price, biologic rebates, HRU, NMS program setup, administration and monitoring costs.

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Liu Y, Min Yang M, Garg V, Wu EQ, Wang J, Skup M