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Celltrion, Samsung Bioepis anticipate increased biosimilar sales in Europe

Insurance coverage of biologics for mild rheumatoid arthritis in UK seen as boon for Korean biosimilar companies

By Jul 12, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Celltrion's Remsima is used to treat immune-system diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Celltrion's Remsima is used to treat immune-system diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

South Korean biosimilar companies such as Celltrion Inc. and Samsung Bioepis Co. are likely to see their sales hike by tens of millions of dollars annually, following the UK government's decision to provide insurance coverage on medicine for patients with minor symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

According to industry sources on July 11, the UK-based National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently announced guidelines that offer insurance coverage of biologics for rheumatoid arthritis patients with mild symptoms.

Until now, the UK only offered insurance coverage of biologics to patients that suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis due to health insurance budget restrictions. Patients with mild symptoms would initially be prescribed synthetic drugs, and if their conditions worsened then they would be prescribed biologics.

Since biologics were not covered by insurance, getting a prescription was virtually impossible. The UK, which offers universal healthcare, had prohibited insurance coverage for the prescription of biologics as it was too costly.

Following the new guidelines, the medical industry expects the emergence of biosimilars to broaden the scope of insurance coverage. Notably, the frequent use of biosimilars, which are about 30% to 40% less expensive than the original biopharmaceutical drugs, has lessened the financial pressure on the government.

“One of the biggest advantages of biosimilars is increasing accessibility to expensive biologics,” said a Samsung Bioepis official.

The new guidelines are expected to increase sales for Korean biosimilar companies such as Celltrion and Samsung Bioepis.

“The two companies are likely to pull in tens of millions more dollars annually," said an industry official, adding that other countries aside from the UK are also expected to change their guidelines.

Write to Woo-Sub Kim at

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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