EQRx — the buzzy biotech company with a lofty mission of making far less expensive look-alike versions of blockbuster drugs — is finally starting to sign deals with insurance companies, a key step toward launching drugs that could shake up the market for medicines. But the deals are light on details, raising questions about just how meaningful that shake-up might eventually be.
The company’s approach to developing drugs relies on “fast followers” — that is, drugs that are extremely similar to approved drugs that can be brought to market more quickly and cheaply than a product that’s breaking new ground. EQRx’s first two drugs for non-small cell lung cancer — aumolertinib and sugemalimab — are approved and pending approval in China, respectively.
But simply setting low prices won’t be enough. To achieve its mission, EQRx will have to partner with insurers and health systems that can encourage doctors to prescribe their drugs — and patients to take them — because of their lower prices.
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