Should biosimilars be positioned?

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Do biosimilars need to be positioned? It is a debatable point amongst markets of biosimilar products, but the growing consensus is that they should, in fact, be positioned and messaged with the same degree of rigor (if not scale) as the originator brand and this is the perspective that OptiBrand Rx champions. 

Many argue that biosimilars and branded generics simply compete on price. This may be true when comparing the biosimilar or branded generic to the reference product, but more and more, we are seeing added competitive pressure from other biosimilars aiming to siphon market share. Meaning a smaller and smaller slice of the pie. There are two main areas to consider: 

Point One: companies such as Amgen are mounting aggressive campaigns to cast doubt about just how “similar” biosimilars are to their reference brands. 

Amgen and other companies that have brands that face challenges from biosimilars want to ensure that their brands retain authority. They aim to cast doubt about biosimilars and instill the point that while they are similar, they are not exactly the same and any differences may cause patients to ‘react differently.’ 

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One key strategy we encourage companies developing biosimilars to consider is leveraging any corporate equity that may exist. For example, if Pfizer is developing a biosimilar, the reference brand company can take shots on the product level, but Pfizer can certainly put a lot of muscle behind the fact that they have a long and lustrous history and they should command the confidence of their customers. This built up corporate trust and condense can transfer over to bio-similar products. 

Point two: push past what the product does and set your sights on other ways you might be able to compete.  For example, what services and tools are you able to offer that may differentiate your product form other biosimilars aiming to compete? We have evidence that shows that even for products that are highly commoditized, consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands that are essentially identical purely on the basis of additional services and tools offered that are of value. 

These areas of opportunity offer fertile ground for biosimilars to compete and command a premium. It is our philosophy that even so called “me-too” products can and should be thinking about positioning and messaging. Even something as simple as examining messages and prioritizing them based on the market dynamic can transform the opportunity for new biosimilar products.