Pfizer to Lower Price of Enbrel in Ireland

The Irish Times reports that Pfizer will be cutting the price of Enbrel® (etanercept) on November 1st.

Pfizer is cutting its price to comply with Ireland’s Framework Agreement on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines (the “Framework Agreement”), which, starting August 1, 2016, set new pricing rules for medicines supplied to or reimbursed by Ireland’s Heath Services and hospitals.  The Framework Agreement provides that any biologic medicine for which (1) patent protection has expired and (2) a biosimilar is available will have its price reduced to 80% of the original wholesale price at which it was first approved for reimbursement or supply.

According to an accompanying press release, the Framework Agreement was intended to bring drug prices in Ireland “more into line with other European countries.”  Among other changes, the Framework Agreement increases the number of EU Member States used by Ireland for its external reference pricing to 14 from the previous 9; mandates annual price realignments; mandates price reductions for certain medicines for which a generic or biosimilar is available; and increases rebate payments by drug suppliers to Health Services and hospitals.

The Irish Times article states that Enbrel’s 20% price reduction plus additional rebate payments will bring the effective price cut to 30%, matching the price of Biogen’s etanercept biosimilar, Benepali®, which came on the market in September.

Given many countries’ concerns over prices of biologics, it is possible that re-pricing strategies similar to Ireland’s will become more common in the future.