Published: Wed, October 19, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Pfizer to launch second-ever biosimilar in the US

Pfizer to launch second-ever biosimilar in the US

But it wasn't a good day for the stock, which ended down after rival drugs group Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) announced overnight said it would release a cheaper version of JNJ's immune drug Remicade - before offering the knock-out blow on Tuesday when it confirmed its Inflectra injection, a biosimilar version of Johnson & Johnson's JNJ blockbuster drug Remicade, will be available in the U.S. in late November. Investors apparently are anxious about unexpectedly early competition to the company's longtime top seller.

J&J raised the lower end of its full-year 2016 profit forecast to $6.68 per share, from $6.63 a share.

J&J said in an emailed statement that it considers any sales by Pfizer of a Remicade biosimilar to be an "at risk launch".

Just the second biosimilar to launch in the United States, Pfizer has said that Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb)-biosimilar to Johnson & Johnson's Remicade (infliximab)-will cost 15% less than the list price of the reference product.

Joaquin Duato, J&J's pharmaceuticals chief, also said the company expected stable Remicade patients to stay on the therapy, and that J&J will compete on price. But so far the makers of original drugs facing biosimilar rivals have been trying to delay that competition with lawsuits over whether the original drug still has a patent in force that protects its monopoly. "It will lose some market share".

Pfizer said that Inflectra will be introduced at a 15 percent discount to the current wholesaler acquisition cost (WAC) of Remicade.

J&J executives told the analysts that about 70 percent of patients taking Remicade are doing well and unlikely to change drugs, the company has a strong patient assistance program and it's offering sizeable discounts to insurers.

The Pfizer drug, to be sold under the name Inflectra, is already available in Europe and other overseas markets.

The world's biggest maker of health care products on Tuesday reported net income of $4.27 billion, or $1.53 per share, up from $3.36 billion, or $1.20 per share, in 2015's third quarter.

Excluding special items, J&J earned $1.68 per share, topping the average analyst forecast of $1.66 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Last year, six of the 10 bestselling medicines by global revenue were biologics, with about $49 billion in combined sales. With annual United States sales of about $5 billion (€4.55bn), Remicade is J&J's biggest product.

The New Brunswick, N.J., company now expects earnings for the year of $6.68 to $6.73 a share, compared with its previous guidance for $6.63 on the bottom.

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