• Source : Press Release
  • Date : 2021-09-27
  • Event type : Marketed
  • Companies : Roche

Will Price of Avastin, Staple in Anticancer Therapy, Go Down

Avastin (bevacizumab), a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor, is almost a staple in anticancer treatment combined with chemotherapy or immunotherapy in various types of cancer.

After Samsung Bioepis' biosimilar of Avastin became reimbursable in Korea, the government notified that it would cut the price of Avastin by 30 percent.

From the top left in clockwise are Roche's original drug Avastin, Pfizer's biosimilar Zirabev, and Samsung Bioepis' biosimilar Onbevzi.

However, Roche, the original drug developer, requested a court to stop the government from lowering the Avastin price because of Roche's ongoing lawsuit against Samsung Bioepis over the patent issue.

Samsung Bioepis said it recently received an application, filed by Genentech and Roche, for an injunction involving infringement of patent rights related to domestic sales of Onbevzi.

Developed by Samsung Bioepis, Onbevzi is a biosimilar referencing Avastin.

The company obtained marketing approval for the biosimilar in March and reimbursement in September.

With Onbevzi getting health insurance benefits, the government notified that it would lower the price of the original drug Avastin by 30 percent from October.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is reportedly revising the list of reimbursable drugs and the table of the maximum reimbursement rates.

Indications of Onbevzi are mostly similar to those of Avastin, except for epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and primary peritoneal cancer.

Avastin has more indications in platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant patients with relapsed cancer.

Based on this point, industry sources said Roche was proceeding with the patent lawsuit against Samsung Bioepis.

Suppose the health and welfare ministry announces a drug price cut for Avastin, and the court accepts Roche's request to stop the execution of the drug price cut. In that case, the price reduction for Avastin is likely to be delayed for an indefinite length of time.

“We can't go into details, but the company will actively respond with a lawsuit,” an official at Samsung Bioepis said.

The government is also reviewing reimbursement for another Avastin biosimilar Zirabev, recently introduced in Korea by Pfizer. So if the Avastin price cut gets postponed from October, Pfizer might benefit from the delay.

This is because a reimbursable biosimilar is priced at around 70 to 80 percent of the original drug's price.

Unlike Obevzi, Zirabev has the same indications as Avastin. Industry watchers pay attention to whether Pfizer will be free from Genentech/Roche's patent issue.

When Zirabev was launched in the U.S. in 2019, Genentech and Pfizer had a patent dispute. However, the two voluntarily withdrew the lawsuit through an agreement, and Zirabev entered the U.S. market.