Will more savings continue to be made?
The NHS saved more than £170m in the first 10 months of this financial year by using cheaper biosimilar versions of three drugs, show data released by NHS Improvement.
By making biosimilar medicines more quickly available after patents run out, the health service will save up to £300m by 2021, said NHS England.
Savings from using biosimilar infliximab, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, were nearly £77m with an uptake of 92.9%, show the figures, which tracked 90% of trusts in the first 10 months of this financial year.
The use of Etanercept, also for rheumatology conditions, saved nearly £42m with an uptake of 87.7%. Ritiximab, used for some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis, saved £33m with an uptake of 63%.
Chair of the British Biosimilars Association and head of specialty at Sandoz UK, Kavya Gopal, said the NHS has moved quickly to make savings from biosimilars.
It is crucial the NHS treats biosimilars as a long-term opportunity, he said, and competition in the market is maintained and pricing is not pushed to unsustainable levels.