Why price of adalimumab keeps rising despite FDA approval of generic competition

FDA has approved five generic versions of adalimumab (Humira—AbbVie), the world's biggest-selling drug, but so far the biosimilars have failed to lower costs and make the therapies more accessible to patients. AbbVie instituted a price increase in excess of 7% on its brand-name treatment on January 1.

FDA has approved five generic versions of adalimumab (Humira—AbbVie), the world's biggest-selling drug, but so far the biosimilars have failed to lower costs and make the therapies more accessible to patients. AbbVie instituted a price increase in excess of 7% on its brand-name treatment on January 1. The increase followed total Humira price increases of 19% during 2017 and 2018, according to a survey by the nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. AbbVie's aggressive use of patents and deals with generic manufacturers to forestall competition has helped to keep the drug's price high. "Biosimilars have so much to offer for America’s patients, but the potential savings that they can bring is being squashed by burdensome patent thickets in the name of profits," says Christine Simmon, senior vice president at the Biosimilars Council. Rather than fight through the thicket via risky patent litigation, the generic makers, which include traditional brand manufacturers such as Pfizer and Amgen, have chosen to settle.