Amgen launches biosimilar version of AbbVie's Humira

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) said on Tuesday it launched a biosimilar version of AbbVie Inc's (ABBV.N) big selling arthritis treatment, the first such competition for Humira in the United States.

Amgen said its drug, Amjevita, or adalimumab-atto, will have two list prices -- $3,288 and $1,557 per 40 milligram pen device for a two-week supply -- representing a discount of 5% and 55% to Humira, depending on who is purchasing.

The drugmaker is expected to offer more rebates on the drug at the higher price, which is likely to encourage adoption among insurers, Cowen and Co analyst Yaron Werber said.

Rebates are payments from drug manufacturers to insurers or pharmacy benefit managers, which act as intermediaries with insurers, for prescription drugs dispensed to plan members.

Shares of AbbVie and Amgen were marginally up in early trading.

Analysts expect sales of Humira to remain largely unaffected in 2023 by the entry of new biosimilars in the market.

At least, seven other Humira biosimilars are set to hit the U.S. market in July.

Insurers have added biosimilars to their formularies but have not given any advantage to them compared to AbbVie's drug, "so there are limited incentives for physicians to chose biosimilars", SVB Securities analyst David Risinger said.

Amgen's biosimilar was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016, but the company held back the launch until now based on a settlement with AbbVie.

Amgen launched its biosimilar version in Europe in October 2018 after Humira went off patent.

"We anticipate that Amjevita will get a 3% share this year in the U.S., translating to $610 million in sales" said Werber.

Reporting by Caroline Humer and Khushi Mandowara, Editing by Bill Berkrot and Shinjini Ganguli

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