Uptake of the biologic filgrastim and its biosimilar product among the Medicare population

FDA was given authority in 2010 to approve biosimilar biologics, and 10 have passed muster as of this past June. The first to win approval was filgrastim-sndz, whose performance could provide direction on future research and policy as more biosimilars hit the market.

FDA was given authority in 2010 to approve biosimilar biologics, and 10 have passed muster as of this past June. The first to win approval was filgrastim-sndz, whose performance could provide direction on future research and policy as more biosimilars hit the market. Researchers designed a descriptive study to analyze uptake of filgrastim-sndz within the Medicare Part B community compared with the originator product, filgrastim, and with an alternative biologic, tbo-filgrastim. Claims data for 2014–16 showed that monthly administrations of filgrastim, which is indicated for neutropenia and malignancy, declined from 97% to 52%. Market share grew, however, for both filgrastim-sndz and tbo-filgrastim, which increased to a respective 32% and 16% of all filgrastim use. Filgrastim-sndz represented a first exposure to filgrastim for nearly three-quarters of users, with only about one-quarter having previously used the originator product. Medicare beneficiaries who received filgrastim-sndz tended to be slightly older, and product selection also varied based on geography and original Medicare enrollment status. While both alternative filgrastim options gained market share, filgrastim-sndz was more popular than tbo-filgrastim. The trend does not appear to be caused by the biosimilars' list prices, considering that tbo-filgrastim's discount was similar to or deeper than the initial 15% discount for filgrastim-sndz.