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As the battle over biosimilar drugs intensifies, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) plans to host a meeting to solicit advice from experts about maintaining the dominance of its Remicade rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Such efforts are hardly unusual, but the nature of its overture is troubling some experts, who complain the health care giant is pursuing a tactic that will only maintain high prices.

Next month, the company hopes to hold what is called an advisory board meeting in Nashville, Tenn., where a group of medical experts will be asked to “identify opportunities to differentiate Remicade” from one or more biosimilar medicines. A biosimilar, you may recall, is a nearly identical variant of a brand-name biologic medicine and is expected to provide the same result in patients.


Finding the best answers to such questions is a key concern for J&J. Remicade is its biggest-selling drug, with $1.64 billion in sales during the first nine months of this year. But over the past year, competition has emerged from other companies that won regulatory approval to sell biosimilar versions — one is sold by Pfizer (PFE) and the other is sold by Merck (MRK) and Samsung Bioepis.

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