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Drug switching

NHS savings from adalimumab biologic switching hit earlier than expected

Adalimumab (Humira)

Source: Martin Shields / Alamy Stock Photo

Adalimumab (Humira; AbbVie) came off patent in October 2018 and was projected to achieve savings of £300m by 2021, but this is now expected one year earlier

The NHS will make financial savings from switching to biosimilar versions of adalimumab earlier than originally anticipated, according to Steve Brown, NHS England’s regional pharmacist for the south of England.

Brown told the Clinical Pharmacy Congress, which was held in London on 7–8 June 2019, that the switch programme will achieve savings of £300m by the beginning of 2020, rather than by 2021 as originally estimated.

Adalimumab (Humira; AbbVie), which is used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, came off patent in October 2018.

Brown explained that implementation of the adalimumab switch programme, which began in December 2018, has been extremely complex, with around 50,000 patients being transferred to the “best-value biologic”, predominantly via homecare providers.

The rate of uptake of best-value adalimumab has varied across different regions across England, ranging from around 20% in the West Midlands to approximately 90% in the South West, Brown said, adding that he is also looking at the barriers to uptake.

Proactive planning and communication with providers, professional networks and patient groups have been crucial to successful implementation, he told delegates.

“Where that’s happened we’ve [achieved] massive financial benefits … and the healthcare system has benefited from all of those savings very positively.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206658

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