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Laura Wingate Discusses Patient Education for Biosimilar Switches vs New Starts, Interchangeability

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Greater attention needs to be on educating patients who are switching from a reference product they are successful on to a biosimilar than a patient who is starting a treatment with a biosimilar at the beginning of their disease journey, explained Laura Wingate, executive vice president, Education, Support, & Advocacy, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.

Greater attention needs to be on educating patients who are switching from a reference product they are successful on to a biosimilar than a patient who is starting a treatment with a biosimilar at the beginning of their disease journey, explained Laura Wingate, executive vice president, Education, Support, & Advocacy, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.

Transcript

Does patient education differ for patients on Humira switching to a biosimilar compared with patients who are starting on adalimumab for the first time?

We've found—and we've been educating patients for many years about biosimilars—we found that the new starts are like any other education within a disease state. They need the education, they need to have those conversations with their health care professional, but they experience less concern over biosimilars, because it's being introduced to them at the start of their disease journey, and they understand and are being supported throughout. Whereas the switches from a stable patient on their drug, that's concerning because someone's doing well, and they don't want to risk not doing well and have their symptoms flare up.

That's why particular attention needs to be paid to the switches. But also, everyone needs to be educated about biosimilars and understand the language of all—in my case—our disease state, Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis and all the drugs that are available and when they're used. And that's where education comes in by the health care professional, but also by organizations like Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.

With only 3 interchangeable biosimilars in the United States, the designation still causes some confusion about what it does and doesn't mean. How is the foundation educating patients on interchangeability?

interchangeability is definitely a term that needs to be defined, as you said, for health care professionals, as well as patients. But we have been educating and sharing this terminology throughout the process, and now we're really emphasizing that there are the first interchangeable biosimilars on market. And we're explaining that that means a clinical trial in that disease state has taken place—so, for us, that's inflammatory bowel disease—and that through that the FDA has given interchangeable status, which is a slightly different status than the other biosimilars, only indicating that a trial has gone on in that specific disease state and substitution at the pharmacy level can be made.

That's a nuanced piece of education. It’s one I think we're going to continue to have to explain to patients and help them understand all of their options and that there's a substitution level availability with a pharmacist for interchangeable biosimilars.

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