Sandoz’s Biosimilar Skyrockets After CVS Removes AbbVie’s Humira from Formularies

CVS Health

Pictured: CVS Health's signage outside its office in Texas/iStock, JHVEPhoto

Prescriptions for biosimilar versions of AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab) have spiked to 36% after leading pharmacy benefit manager CVS Caremark removed the branded reference product from its major national commercial formularies, according to STAT News.

Citing a note to investors by analyst firm Evercore ISI, STAT reported that in the week ending April 5, there were almost 8,300 new prescriptions for Sandoz’s Hyrimoz (adalimumab-adaz), up from approximately 640 in the week ending March 29. Hyrimoz accounted for 93% of the growth of biosimilars, which previously only captured around 5% of the market share.

CVS Caremark in January 2024 announced that it would be taking Humira off its major national commercial formularies and that it would instead favor biosimilars for reimbursement. The changes took effect on April 1.

Humira can still be accessed through CVS’ Choice and Standard Opt Out commercial formularies, which are mostly used by employers, unions and health plans.

Launched in July 2023, Hyrimoz is a citrate-free and high-concentration biosimilar version of Humira, making its onset of effect more rapid and its injections less painful than other copycat competitors, according to Sandoz. Hyrimoz’s formulation also reduces the injection formulation by 50% and could lead to fewer injections in some patients.

Unlike other biosimilars such as Boehringer Ingelheim’s Cyltezo, Hyrimoz has not yet won the FDA’s interchangeability designation, meaning it cannot be substituted for the branded reference product without consulting the prescriber.

In August 2023, CVS Health launched a new, wholly owned subsidiary called Cordavis to co-develop and commercialize biosimilar products in the U.S. At the time, the consumer healthcare giant said that its goal was to boost access to medicines and drive down prices by developing a robust portfolio of biosimilars that could foster more competition in the market.

Cordavis’ first product is Hyrimoz, which it sells in partnership with Sandoz, at an 80% discount to Humira.

Several other Humira biosimilars have already hit the U.S. market, including Amgen’s Amjevita, Celltrion’s Yuflyma, Organon and Samsung Bioepis’ Hadlima and Alvotech and Teva’s Simlandi, which also has a citrate-free and high-concentration formulation and also has the FDA’s interchangeability designation.

However, according to Evercore ISI, these products together account for around half of the new prescriptions written for biosimilars. Hyrimoz has captured the other half.

Still, even with discounts that reach as high as 86%, Humira biosimilars are finding it difficult to take market share away from AbbVie’s blockbuster, according to a report last week from Samsung Bioepis which found that these biosimilars have secured only 4% of the market share.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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