Pfizer reportedly filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Johnson & Johnson to ensure patients and providers have access to important, lower cost biosimilar medicines.
According to a Pfizer press release, the suit alleges that J&J’s exclusionary contracts and other anticompetitive practices have denied U.S. patients access to therapeutic options and undermined the benefits of robust price competition in the growing biologics marketplace for patients. It also claims that J&J’s systematic efforts to maintain its monopoly in connection with Remicade (infliximab) by inappropriately excluding biosimilar competitors violates federal antitrust laws and undermines the principal goals of the federal Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA).
“By offering highly similar therapeutic options for patients, doctors and health plans, biosimilars foster therapeutic choice and increased access to biologic medicines around the world,” said John Young, Pfizer’s group president, Essential Health. “For U.S. patients and providers to realize the benefits of biosimilars, new and existing biosimilar entrants should have a fair chance to compete with originator products – now and in the future – based on lawful pricing and access practices. By supporting the availability of biosimilar therapies, we can help ensure that patients have better access to a wide range of lower cost therapeutic options.”
The complaint describes how insurers originally classified Inflectra at parity with Remicade – meaning, there was no medical reason to favor Remicade over Inflectra. However, insurers reversed course after J&J threatened to withhold significant rebates unless insurers agreed to “biosimilar-exclusion” contracts that effectively block coverage for Inflectra and other infliximab biosimilars.
In the absence of such coverage, providers – who depend on reimbursement from insurers – are reluctant to stock biosimilars, even to service Medicare and Medicaid patients where there is widespread coverage for Inflectra, the release said. Additionally, J&J allegedly offered providers anticompetitive contracts conditioned on the providers not purchasing biosimilars to Remicade in exchange for discounts on Remicade. These anticompetitive practices are preventing physicians from trying and patients from accessing the biosimilar.