Drugmaker Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) has filed a lawsuit against personal care company Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) over anticompetitive activities in regards to health insurer contracts over the rheumatoid arthritis drug, Remicade. In the suit, Pfizer comments that J&J offers discounts on its Remicade treatment in exchange, basically, for excluding Pfizer’s rival drug from insurance coverage, thus keeping it away from patients
J&J (NYSE: JNJ) CFO Dominic Caruso confides that Pfizer offers a small discount on the medicine but they also do not have any interchangeability with the mainstay and that is making it hard for competitors to make any ground in terms of market share.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) , of course, argues that this is not the case. The biosimilars market has brought so many blockbuster treatments to market and now companies have growing fears about generics taking over.
According to Pfizer group president of Essential Health, John Young, “By offering highly similar therapeutic options for patients, doctors and health plans, biosimilars foster therapeutic choice and increased access to biologic medicines around the world. For U.S. patients and providers to realize the benefits of biosimilars, new and existing biosimilar entrants should have a fair chance to compete with originator products – now and in the future – based on lawful pricing and access practices. By supporting the availability of biosimilar therapies, we can help ensure that patients have better access to a wide range of lower cost therapeutic options.”
A biosimilar drug, by definition, does not have any clinically meaningful differences from its original iteration in terms of safety and purity and potency.
Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) executive vice president and general counsel, Douglas Lankler, further comments, “Congress enacted the BPCIA to improve patient access to more affordable treatment options and to foster meaningful price competition for biologic products. J&J’s behavior runs counter to the spirit of this law and to U.S. antitrust laws. We are filing this suit to help ensure that patients can benefit from, and have access to, lower cost biosimilar therapies.”
Young adds, “It’s not in the best interest of patients and our healthcare system if originator companies like J&J (NYSE: JNJ) can use their dominant market position to prevent access to lower cost, effective biosimilar medicines in the U.S. Pfizer is committed to challenging practices like those implemented by J&J that block biosimilar options for patients and price competition – through the courts and by working with policymakers and regulators – so that patients have a wide range of treatment options available to them at a competitive price.”