Kathy Oubre on Challenges, Benefits of Biosimilar Integration in Oncology

Kathy Oubre, MS, chief operating officer of Pontchartrain Cancer Center, discusses cost-saving implications of biosimilars in oncology, as well as several barriers that continue to impede their use.

Kathy Oubre, MS, is the chief operating officer of Pontchartrain Cancer Center.


There are several challenges to biosimilar integration in cancer care, particularly intervention from payers in allowing access to providers. How has this issue fared in recent years and what other barriers persist?

Payers continue to insert their influence in the physician-patient relationship by step edits and formulary restrictions. For example, biosimilars are often not preferred over reference products by the majority of US health care plans.

In addition, biosimilars are also not even on the formulary of most of our state Medicaids, and physician preference has been slow to adoption. A 2019 survey found that the majority of oncology products still are not used with biosimilars or they're used only in supportive care or some physicians prefer not to switch patients during a launch.

On a bright note, though, the recent Bernstein analysis that I mentioned earlier shows that these attitudes are changing. And even with the most modest uptake and challenges around biosimilar adoption, a recent IQVIA report shows that biosimilar-related savings will range from $49 to $140 billion over the next 5 years.

How has the pandemic impacted biosimilar adoption in cancer care delivery?

I think that answer has 2 parts. Similar to most drug launches during COVID-19, it's just been really difficult to keep up with new biosimilar drug launches during this time due to lack of access with our pharma partners.

However, as many people continue to have their hours cut or lose their jobs and just be faced with financial insecurities during this time, the cost savings of biosimilars have helped many people be able to continue and afford their treatments.

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