The cost of drugs to treat cancer has been increasing significantly around the world. This is partly due to the introduction of new therapies to treat the condition; however, with so much research, development and innovation being made there is uncertainty around how health care systems will be able to afford these advancements.
Following the arrival of generics, there have been major decreases in the cost of drugs across the world. These price decreases are incredibly important for healthcare systems and patients alike as they work to make healthcare more accessible globally.
The issue that surrounds these new cancer drugs is that many of them are biologicals rather than generics which presents a major challenge with regards to cost effectiveness. Due to the drug complexity of biosimilars, only biologically similar agents are able to be produced rather than biologically identical agents, following the expiration of the patent of the original drug.
Such biosimilars must go through basic testing of their pharmacological equivalency, as required by regulators, but do not require stringent clinical trials which are undertaken on generics. Despite the reduced testing, the cost of developing biosimilars is estimated to be 50 times that of a conventional generic drug. On top of this, it has been reported that it can take up to estimated eight years to be brought into the market.
It has been reported that the complexity of producing biosimilars also means that entering the biosimilars market may be limited to just a few specialist companies which means that a lack of competition is likely to push up prices and also means heavy monetary investment and investment in time to decrease legal battles.
As a result of these factors, the cost of these drugs once the patent has expired is not expected to be reduced as much as that of generics. Research has shown that the prices of generics have fallen to around 10% of their original price, whereas the prices of biosimilars are expected to only fall to around 80% of their original price.
With all these pressures, the changes mean that drug budgets may face significant challenges in the future.