In its recent healthcare budget, French lawmakers introduced a measure that will allow pharmacists to substitute generics for prescribed brand-name biotech drugs. This has rattled the industry since France is Europe's #2 pharmaceutical market behind Germany.
A decree must be passed before it becomes effective.
France is the first European country to pursue biologic substitution. Big Pharma fears a domino effect if it is successful despite the heretofore slow uptake of biosimilars.
The initiative applies only to patients starting a new course of treatment. Doctors will still retain the ability to demand the branded product.
Unsurprisingly, Big Pharma is upset at not being consulted prior to the law's passage.
Some analysts believe France could save up to $1.4B by 2020 by using generics.
Substitutions only apply to retail pharmacies. 40% of biotech prescriptions are filled in hospitals.