China-based Qilu Pharmaceutical received approval in December 2019 for QL-1101 under the trade name Ankada, a biosimilar to Avastin (bevacizumab), to treat advanced, metastatic or recurrent non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Being the first approved Avastin biosimilar in China, Ankada will have the first-mover advantage, however its success will depend on a strong commercialization strategy, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
As per GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, there are a total of 11 bevacizumab biosimilars in the pipeline in China with one in the pre-registration phase, five in Phase III and five in various early-stages, including Phase II and Phase I stage.
Prashant Khadayate, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, says:
“China is always looking for affordable treatment options for patients and there is a huge potential for biosimilar therapies in the country as the average price discount of biosimilars will be in general 30% compared to originator biologics price. Getting the first approval for Avastin biosimilar can give Qilu quick market penetration versus originator biologic.”
In the first half of 2019, Roche reported 13% growth in Avastin sales across international markets, mostly due to broader market penetration in China, where sales increased by 61%. Avastin is listed on China’s national reimbursement drug list (NRDL) and the listed prices of Avastin were cut by 61.4% after the 2017 NRDL price negotiations. The broader market penetration could be attributed to this as well.
Khadayate concludes: “Key challenges faced by the biosimilars for market penetration are mainly related to awareness about biosimilar safety and efficacy versus the originator biologic. Avastin has shown a significant growth rate in the China market.
“Therefore, it becomes crucial to develop a comprehensive commercialization strategy for Ankada, including creating awareness for both healthcare providers and patients, innovative pricing, and sales force effectiveness. In addition, listing of Ankada on the NRDL list can provide quick access to the wider market.”