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Physicians Believe in Biosimilars but Lack Awareness, Says Report by Quantia

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
A white paper released by QuantiaMD has identified a lack of awareness and education about biosimilars among prescribing physicians.
A white paper released by QuantiaMD has identified a lack of awareness and education among primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists who prescribe the biologics for emerging biosimilars. The report, Reading the Signs: A Roadmap for Engaging Physicians in the Biosimilars Discussion, found that while physicians recognize the clinical value and the cost advantage that biosimilars would bring to the healthcare industry, they lack detailed information on these products that would give them the confidence to translate their awareness into action.

Biosimilars have long been predicted as harbingers of health savings. The RAND Corporation released a report last year that estimated that biosimilar use would result in a $44.2 billion reduction in direct spending over a 10-year period between 2014 and 2024 (4% of total biologic spending during the same period). However, these numbers are based on the assumption that there will be good uptake of these quasi-generic biotech drugs by prescribing physicians.

To better understand the awareness and attitudes of these healthcare providers, QuantiaMD surveyed nearly 300 PCPs and specialists (endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, hematologists, infectious disease specialists, oncologists, nephrologists, neurologists, and rheumatologists). The survey results created the following picture:

  • 94% of physician respondents believed biosimilars would provide value to healthcare. The top values chosen were:
    • lower costs to patients/the health system
    • greater patient access to therapies
    • increased choice among prescribing options
  • Only 17% of prescribing specialists (those who see patients with conditions commonly treated with biologics) report they would be “very likely” to prescribe biosimilars to eligible patients. Their primary concerns included safety/efficacy of the follow-on biologic, drug substitution regulations, and accurate evaluation of when to prescribe a biosimilar versus the parent biological.
  • 80% of prescribing specialists say they would want to learn about biosimilars through expert-led digital content
    • 25% of prescribing specialists’ considered specialty societies their most trusted source of information about biosimilars, followed by peers (19%), and key opinion leaders (18%).
While awareness on biologicals was abundant, the survey found that prescribing specialists who practice out of more restrictive organizations such as integrated delivery networks of physician hospital organizations are less aware than their counterparts practicing independently or out of less restrictive organizations.

The findings of this report highlights the need for the pharmaceutical industry to provide education and support to physicians so they can translate their awareness on these follow-on products into action. This would include providing the specialist physicians with adequate safety and efficacy data to ease their concerns about the biosimilar. Finally, the report suggests that providing the physicians with the most relevant materials through or in partnership with sources they deem credible is very important. 

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