Physicians in China See Most Significant Demand for MabThera Biosimilar

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New report from Kantar Health shows opportunities for biosimilars are high in oncology, low in rheumatoid arthritis in China.

Some technological barriers need to be overcome to produce MabThera’s biosimilar. Despite this delay, almost all of the physicians we surveyed would welcome a biosimilar option.

Physicians in China are most eagerly awaiting a biosimilar for MabThera (rituximab) for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), according to a new report from Kantar Health, a leading global healthcare consulting firm. MabThera is the only biologic available to treat diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common form of NHL.

According to Kantar Health’s report, “Biosimilars in China: Market Access and Barriers,” the incidence of NHL in China has been growing and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 2.8 percent through 2030. According to physicians surveyed by Kantar Health, half of NHL patients are treated with MabThera, and 85 percent of DLBCL patients in China are eligible to receive MabThera, which is usually used in first-line treatment and will continue to be used if patients progress or relapse. Depending on the number of competitors on the market, MabThera could lose between half and three-quarters of its market share to biosimilars.

“Although MabThera is necessary to treat NHL, it is expensive, and there is a strong demand for more affordable options,” said Maartje Van Diepen, Associate Director, Kantar Health. “Unfortunately, some technological barriers need to be overcome to produce MabThera’s biosimilar. Despite this delay, almost all of the physicians we surveyed would welcome a biosimilar option because MabThera’s price has not gone down in more than 10 years. NHL patients in China also are very sensitive to price changes and would accept a relatively low discount of 30 percent for the biosimilar.”

Biosimilars also would be likely to take significant market share from biologics in breast cancer and metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Herceptin (trastuzumab) is used as a first-line treatment for breast cancer and is widely accepted among HER2-positive patients. According to Kantar Health’s research, biosimilars are expected to capture about 50 percent share from Herceptin.

“Since trastuzumab’s efficacy in treating breast cancer is well accepted, its lower cost would cause it to steal share from Herceptin,” Van Diepen said. “A patient assistance program could help narrow the gap between the originator and its biosimilars, assuming they have the same commercial conditions.”

In mCRC Avastin (bevacizumab) is perceived by Chinese physicians to be not as efficacious as Erbitux (cetuximab) but is used more than Erbitux because of its lower price and wider patient scope. A biosimilar would potentially take more market share from Avastin (approximately 50 percent) than it would from Erbitux (about 12.5 percent).

Biologics are the recommended treatment for moderate and severe rheumatoid arthritis patients. The leading treatment is the biosimilar Yisaipu, while Humira (adalimumab) and Remicade (infliximab) are used in few patients. While biosimilars are used the most in rheumatoid arthritis, the market is dominated by local products rather than products from multinational corporations.

“Market conditions are unfavorable for foreign-produced biosimilars in rheumatoid arthritis,” Van Diepen said. “The competition is fierce, with many domestic manufacturers producing or interested in producing biosimilars, and the low cost of Yisaipu means that patients are very price-sensitive and will be unlikely to switch without a large price discount.”

About the Report
Biosimilars in China: Market Access and Barriers” provides insights into market access, the competitive landscape, opportunities in key therapy areas and regulatory issues affecting the adoption of biosimilars in China. It offers a granular view of the local market through primary research and proprietary market data.

About Kantar Health
Kantar Health is a leading global healthcare consulting firm and trusted advisor to many pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device and diagnostic companies worldwide. It combines evidence-based research capabilities with deep scientific, therapeutic and clinical knowledge, commercial development know-how, and brand and marketing expertise to help clients evaluate opportunities, launch products and maintain brand and market leadership.

Kantar Health deeply understands the influence of patients, payers and physicians, especially as they relate to the performance and payment of medicines and the delivery of healthcare services. Its 600+ healthcare industry specialists work across the product lifecycle, from preclinical development to launch, acting as catalysts to successful decision-making in life sciences and helping clients prioritize their product development and portfolio activities, differentiate their brands and drive product success post-launch. Kantar Health is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP. For more information, please visit

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Stacy Sevcik
Kantar Health
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