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If some of the largest U.S. employers had used biosimilar versions of a pair of widely used brand-name biologic medicines two years ago, they could have saved an average of $1.5 million and their employees would also have spent hundreds of dollars less, according to a new study.

Nearly all of the savings would have been realized if those 13 companies had relied on biosimilar versions of Remicade, a popular treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, among other ailments. The savings, meanwhile, from biosimilar versions of Neupogen, a bone marrow stimulant for cancer patients, would have amounted to less than $18,000, on average. Spending on the two drugs represented up to 2.7% of typical annual spending on pharmaceuticals by the companies.


Overall, the findings suggest that biosimilars, which are nearly identical variants of pricey brand-name biologic medicines that are expected to cost less but yield the same health outcomes, could save the U.S. health care system billions of dollars. And this has been a widely held belief ever since Congress created a regulatory pathway for biosimilars approvals more than a decade ago.

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