The Generic Side of MS Treatment

At the 37th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last week, there was not only talk in many of the meetings about new pharmaceuticals coming to market for many health conditions, but I also heard buzz about the impact generics will have on cost savings this coming year for a variety of diseases.

One of the areas discussed was multiple sclerosis. Generics…biosimilars…bioequivalents: whatever the name, these alternative forms of multiple sclerosis medications can save patients serious money. Patients will soon have more choices than ever before, not just in medication options for treating multiple sclerosis (due to the pipeline of new medications), but also in terms of whether they select a name brand medication or its less-expensive generic copy.

These much-anticipated changes to the disease treatment landscape are due, in part, to 24 drug patents set to expire from late 2018 to early 2019 – several of which include MS medications. This sets the stage for generics to make a big move.

For starters, Banner Life Sciences recently got the thumbs up from the FDA for their bioequivalent form of Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), which is the Biogen medication losing patent protection. Banner’s form of this medication is called Bafiertam (monomethyl fumarate) and should be available by June 2020 or even earlier. It’s a treatment option for the RRMS form of multiple sclerosis.

Previously, the FDA approved two generic versions of glatiramer acetate, a medication known by the brand name Copaxone.

All in all, these new medication options represent an opportunity for significant cost savings for patients facing a lifetime of reliance on what can be high-price medications.