(Bloomberg) -- AbbVie Inc.’s blockbuster drug Humira costs the US health system $90,000 per patient each year. Now, an emerging competitor plans to sell an alternative at an 85% discount.
Coherus BioSciences Inc. will launch the cheapest-ever Humira copycat, Yusimry, in July, with a list price of $995 for two autoinjectors, the company said Thursday. That’s far below the $6,922 AbbVie charges for the same supply of its drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions.
Shares of Coherus fell 2.9% at 9:36 a.m. in New York, while AbbVie’s stock was down 4.2%.
Coherus is pricing Yusimry to compete with Humira biosimilars that, like generic drugs, serve as cheap alternatives to complex biologic therapies. Denny Lanfear, the company’s chief executive officer, said its product could secure 10% of Humira’s market by 2026 or 2027.
Health plans “want a mix of a brand and low-cost options,” said Chris Slavinsky, Coherus’s chief business officer, in an interview. “Our goal is to be there as that low-cost option.”
Redwood City, California-based Coherus is already in touch with health plans and specialty pharmacies, and has struck a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Co. to get the product to patients starting in July.
AbbVie’s Humira works by blocking a protein that causes inflammation. In 2022, the treatment generated about $21 billion in sales. Analysts expect Humira’s revenue to erode as cheaper copycats like Yusimry eat into US sales this year and beyond.
Those include Amgen Inc.’s Amjevita, which became the first biosimilar of Humira in January. The biotech adopted an unusual pricing strategy: For some health plans, Amgen’s biosimilar is offered at a 5% discount to Humira — $85,494 a year. For other plans, the discount is 55%. Amgen used the strategy to appeal to different buyers, as some opt for higher prices upfront in exchange for rebates down the line.
Read More: Amgen Takes on AbbVie’s Blockbuster With Unusual Price Plan
Both those prices are far higher than Yusimry’s annual cost of about $13,000. Lanfear said Coherus uses large, stainless-steel tanks to produce the medicine in quantities that keep costs down.
Coherus is working with Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs to reach people who may be especially interested in lower prices for the autoimmune therapy. The companies have a deal to offer two autoinjectors of Yusimry for $579.27 in cash plus a shipping fee, which may appeal to those who are uninsured and underinsured.
Cuban, a tech investor, started his drug company in 2021 as source for affordable prescription medications. The firm negotiates directly with manufacturers and charges a 15% markup on every drug it sells.
Yusimry is the first biosimilar Cost Plus Drugs has added to its portfolio. Cuban didn’t have an estimate of how many customers it will reach with the Coherus drug, but said it will be able to meet demand.
“Working with Coherus is a great first step,” Cuban said in an email. “They understand the market and will have a huge impact.”
--With assistance from Angelica Peebles.
(Updates with Coherus and AbbVie shares in third paragraph)
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