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Kathy Oubre Previews Biosimilar Discussion at the 2021 Community Oncology Alliance


Kathy Oubre, MS, chief operating officer, Pontchartrain Cancer Center, explores US adoption of biosimilars ahead of her panel discussion at the 2021 Community Oncology Conference, as well as what sessions she’s looking forward to attending.

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


For the 2021 Community Oncology Conference, a panel will discuss biosimilars in cancer care. Can you speak on the current state of biosimilar uptake in oncology practices and any progress made in recent years?

Oubre: So, US adoption of biosimilars continues to gain traction. According to a recent analysis by Ronny Gal, senior analyst with Bernstein and a presenter at COA this year, in the latter part of 2020, the market reached an annualized savings of approximately $7 billion for the overall US health care system.

In addition, a recent NCCN [National Comprehensive Cancer Network] poster presented showed rapid adoption of the biosimilar Kanjinti during its first year of availability in patients with breast cancer, whether or not they had previously received the originator Herceptin.

These market shifts are likely a combination of patient acceptance, physician confidence, and a growing demand from patients, physicians, and employer groups for payers to include biosimilars on their formularies.

A recent op-ed by Peter Bach argued that we should throw in the towel on biosimilars. I find this to be a rather short-sighted statement. In 2019, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, argued that we shouldn't give up on biosimilars and prematurely regulate prices. A review of recent literature over the past year or so supports Dr. Gottlieb's comments. Biosimilar adoption is increasing, competition is accelerating, and prices are dropping.

What sessions or topics at this year’s conference will you be interested to learn more on?

Oubre: I'm most interested to hear Ronny Gal, the senior analyst from Bernstein, who will discuss the hospital transparency requirement that the government started in January. Ronny's research will support what those of us in community oncology have known for years: that hospitals overcharge for drugs. His research will also support that community oncology remains the best high-quality, low-cost provider.

So, on the pharmacy side, the PBM [pharmacy benefit manager] and payer update will be fascinating. And we will have an amazing panel with John Levitt from Frier Levitt, our own Ted Okon, Rich Ingram, MD, and Stuart Genschaw. This session will be sure to highlight the games and tricks that PBMs and insurers play.

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