Merck Launches Renflexis, a Biosimilar Version of Remicade

Merck, the pharmaceutical giant with 10,000 Montgomery County employees, has expanded its COVID-19 efforts significantly with three new deals. (Image via Pharmaceutical Processing)

Merck has launched a biosimilar version of Remicade, Johnson & Johnson’s blockbuster drug, writes John George for Philadelphia Business Journal.

Biosimilar products are designed to be equivalent to previously approved branded biological product. They differ from generic drugs as they have the identical chemical makeup of their branded counterparts.

Originally developed by Malvern’s Centocor, Remicade was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1999 when it bought Centocor for $4.9 billion. Now it is marketed by Horsham’s Janssen Biotech.

Since then, Pfizer has developed a biosimilar product called Inflectra and now Merck has joined the party with Renflexis. Renflexis was approved by the FDA in April to treat several conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

However, according to Merck, which has a large research and manufacturing campus in West Point, the wholesale list price of Renflexis will be $753.39. That is 35 percent lower than the Remicade’s current list price.

“Merck believes that biosimilars have the potential to help increase access to these important medicines, while also providing savings for the health care system,” said Dora Bibila, general manager for Merck Biosimilars.

Read more about Merck’s new drug at Philadelphia Business Journal by clicking here.