Biologics could be cheaper, says Christian Mutuality

“As a result, this means a significant additional cost for our health care and disability insurance,” says the vice-president of the mutual, Élisabeth Degryse. “Indeed, as soon as a generic variant is available, the cost price of the original drug also drops significantly.”

Generic variants can enter the biologic drug market after the monopoly has expired. Due to their biological origin, they are not 100% identical to the original medicine. In this case we are talking about biosimilars. However, these drugs are as effective and safe as the original biologic drugs. In addition, the arrival of a biosimilar results in lower prices for both the biologic drug and the new generic variant, with prices falling by up to 40%.

Biosimilar drugs are however not prescribed enough in our country, argues the MC, which has carried out research on the most commonly used biological drugs, of which at least one biosimilar is on the market in Belgium. “Of all the members of the MC who had at least one reimbursement for one of these drugs in 2019, only 9% received a generic variant,” the statement details. “In this case, our country performs significantly worse than most of the major European countries such as Great Britain, France or Germany.”

Biosimilar drugs are also not yet well established in hospitals, says the mutual. Of the 112 hospitals prescribing one of the biologics studied in 2019, 24 have never opted for a biosimilar.

“As they are still too rarely used, it is often not interesting for a producer of biosimilars to enter the Belgian market”, argues the MC, which pleads for quotas for doctors who prescribe biological drugs. “With the money we would save in this way, we could reimburse other drugs,” says Degryse.

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