It was only ten years ago when biosimilars were so new that the New York Times described them as “so-called.” As late as five years ago newspapers put quotation marks around the term, as in “biosimilars.” At the time some still called them “follow-on” biopharmaceutics.
While much has changed since then, one thing hasn’t: the lack of knowledge of biosimilars among even the most sophisticated health care professionals, not to mention patients and the general public. “You could look it up,” as Hall of Fame Yankee manager Casey Stengel used to say, and I did.
Here are just a few studies showing the need for more education:
● A June 2016 P&T article found that “Pharmacists, prescribers, and patients overall will need more education about biosimilars.” i
● A 2011 survey at a National Comprehensive Cancer Network meeting found that 36 percent of the physician, pharmacist and patient respondents indicated they “were not at all familiar with biosimilars” and the FDA approval pathway. ii
● In a recent survey, only six of 10 responding dermatologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists and rheumatologists “claimed strong knowledge about biosimilars.” iii I added “only” because these are the very specialties that use biologics.
Indeed the very factors that experts say will drive utilization of biosimilars require, well, that prescribers are well informed. “If biosimilars are priced lower than reference biologics, and if safety and efficacy are not an issue, there will be considerable pressure to utilize biosimilars to control health care costs,” the P&T study concluded. In other words, a certain level of knowledge of costs, safety and efficacy, not to mention just the basics, is a prerequisite.
It’s this knowledge gap AMCP is committed to closing. So on June 28 we launched BRC—which stands for the Biosimilars Resource Center and whose mantra is “Unbiased. Up-to-date. Factual.” Joining us in this endeavor are these leading organizations: American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacists Association, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, and the National Community Pharmacists Association.
So check BRC out. Come back often for new content and answers to your questions. And follow BRC on Twitter @biosimfacts.