Pharmacoeconomics of cancer therapies: considerations with the introduction of biosimilars

Semin Oncol. 2014 Apr:41 Suppl 3:S13-20. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2014.03.009. Epub 2014 Mar 13.


Biologics are important treatments for a number of cancers, but they are also significant drivers of globally escalating healthcare costs. Biosimilars have the potential to offer cost-savings with comparable efficacy and safety to innovator products. They are being used in the European Union, Canada, Japan, and Australia and may help with improving health outcomes while minimizing costs to patients and global healthcare systems. The overall value of a biosimilar is not determined solely by its pricing. Efficacy and safety relative to the reference biologic drug and competitive agents as well as development and manufacturing costs, treatment administration costs, and results from long-term safety monitoring are considered. Optimizing economic efficiency is one part of an ongoing healthcare decision-making process with all therapeutics that aims to attain high levels of quality-of-care and safety given available resources. Some analytic tools stakeholders use to determine the pharmacoeconomic value of a therapy that are highlighted in this review article are opportunity cost, cost-effectiveness, and cost-minimization analyses. These methodologies can provide information to physicians, patients, and payers that may help reaffirm the value of a given biosimilar compared with its reference product throughout its life cycle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / economics*
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals / economics*
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Economics, Pharmaceutical*
  • European Union
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • United States


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals