New data out this week support the use of Hospira’s biosimilar Inflectra as a potentially cost-effective treatment option for patients with rheumatic diseases, offering comparable quality, efficacy and safety to reference blockbuster drug Remicade.

Results from the first real world study of Inflectra (infliximab) - presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress - show that patients with severe diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis switching to the drug from Janssen/MSD’s Remicade (infliximab) didn’t experience a drop in efficacy or unexpected side effects.

The findings will provide assurance that switching to Inflectra, the first biosimilar monoclonal antibody to win approval in Europe, “is a viable, effective treatment alternative to maintenance with Remicade,” noted Paul Audhya, vice president of Medical Affairs, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Hospira.

The emergence of biosimilars is being closely watched given their potential to significantly reduce healthcare spend. Hospira notes that 40% of RA patients in Europe have severely restricted access to biologics because of their high cost, giving rise to large variation in uptake. Inflectra is expected to be around 20%-30% cheaper than its reference drug, depending on local pricing and reimbursement agreements, a spokeswoman told PharmaTimes Digital.

Findings from a recent study have estimated that savings from switching RA patients from Remicade to biosimilar infliximab across six countries in Central and Eastern Europe could reach between 15.2 to 20.8 million euros, which, if re-directed into reimbursing additional treatment, could see an extra 1,200-1,800 RA patients accessing the drug over a three-year period.