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NHS to continue to make savings by using biosimilars

Will use of biosimilars be a good thing?


The NHS saved £324m in the past financial year by switching from using 10 ‘expensive’ medicines to ‘better value but just as effective’ alternatives, according to NHS Improvement.


And there are more savings still to be made from using biosimilars said the organisation, which intends to work with NHS trusts to make savings of around £200m in this financial year.


Biosimilars of adalimumab, which treats rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis, and is the medicine on which the NHS spends most money, will probably be available after October this year, alongside the original biological medicine, said NHS Improvement.


NHS England has also commissioned biosimilars of trastuzumab, which treats breast cancer, since 16 July.


Savings made so far by using biosimilars include:

  • £99,400,000 on infliximab for rheumatoid diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases
  • £66,333,000 on imatinib generic, an anti-cancer medicine
  • £60,300,000 on etanercept for rheumatoid diseases
  • £50,430,000 on rituximab for some cancers and rheumatoid diseases
  • £15,912,000 on voriconazole, an antifungal medicine that fights infections caused by fungus in the stomach, guts, lungs, etc


Executive director of operational productivity at NHS Improvement Dr Jeremy Marlow said the savings have meant the NHS could help more people manage their conditions.


As more people are diagnosed with long-term conditions such as arthritis and cancer, the NHS must make sure it manages its resources as efficiently as possible to treat and care for them, he said.


Further information

NHS Improvement: The NHS saves £324m in a year by switching to better value medicines

BBC: Cheaper NHS drugs ‘as safe and effective’