U.S. Saved $338 Billion via Biosimilars and Generics

The Association for Accessible Medicines said biosimilar drugs saved $7.9 billion in 2020, more than tripling the $2.5 billion saved in 2019.

The U.S. healthcare system saved $338 billion in 2020 because of the prescribing of generic drugs and biosimilars that are less expensive than their brand-name counterparts, according to the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM), a trade association for generic and biosimilar makers.

In a preview of its full-fledged report generic and biosimilar savings, the AAM said that biosimilar drugs saved $7.9 billion in 2020, more than tripling the $2.5 billion saved in 2019.

The biosimilar drug market continued to grow in 2020, with three new FDA approvals and six new product launches.

Americas patients deserve access to lifesaving medicines at more affordable prices, and biosimilars are making new access to care available for patients,” said Christine Simmon, executive director of the Biosimilars Council, which is part of the AAM. "Yet biosimilars were still less than 30% volume share in markets where they competed. As more biosimilars are approved and brought to market, patients and taxpayers will save billions while treating serious illnesses like cancer and Crohns disease.”

The full promise of savings through biosimilar competition will only be realized if policymakers take steps to foster greater biosimilar adoption, Simmon added.

The AAM says the introduction of oncology biosimilarshas cut the growth rate of oncology spending roughly in half since 2019. “This reduction in growth, along with continued use of generic cancer medicines, contributed to a total of $18 billion saved on oncology medicines in 2020,” AAM said in a news release.

Generic drug produced significant out-of-pocket savings for individual patients at the pharmacy counter, according to AAM. Almost all (93%) of generic drugs have copays under $20 (as compared to 51% of brand-name drugs) and the average generic copay is $6.61 compared to an average out-of-pocket cost of $55.82 for brand-name drugs, the trade group says.

Medicare recorded $109.6 billion in generic and biosimilar savings in 2020, while Medicaid saved $53.8 billion.

The generic drug industry is absolutely central to the affordability of health care in America, accounting for 9 out of 10 prescriptions,” said Dan Leonard, president and CEO of the AAM in the press release. “In the face of a pandemic that has upended life around the globe, generic and biosimilar medicines have been a constant, providing safe, effective and affordable treatments to the millions of patients who depend on them.”