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German health minister calls for faster adoption of biosimilar drugs

German health minister calls for faster adoption of biosimilar drugs

FRANKFURT: Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn has called for faster adoption of cheaper copies of biotech drugs to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases to reign in rising public healthcare costs.

“Where there is a more affordable alternative at the same quality, we have to use it,” Spahn, who is vying to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the center-right Christian Democrat party, told daily Handelsblatt.

“Otherwise we won’t be able to sustain the high quality of pharmaceutical supply in Germany,” he said in the interview published on Wednesday.

The paper cited the health ministry as saying that a stringent changeover to biosimilars, which are not exact replicas but are as effective and as tolerable as the original drug, would have saved the healthcare system 279 million euros ($315 million) last year.