Biosimilars are becoming more common as more launch on the market in the United States, but patient and provider education can help speed uptake of these products, explained Bincy Abraham, MD, Houston Methodist – Weill Cornell.
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As more biosimilars become available, it is still important to educate patients and providers that the safety and efficacy of these products is equivalent to the originator product. This education is one way to improve uptake of biosimilars and prevent delays in care when payers prefer a biosimilar and patients need to switch products, explained Bincy Abraham, MD, professor of clinical medicine, distinguished professor, director of the Fondren Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, and director of the gastroenterology and hepatology fellowship at Houston Methodist – Weill Cornell.
Since payers control what products are on formulary, the provider role in increasing uptake is mostly around educating other providers on the safety and efficacy of biosimilars so providers are more comfortable prescribing biosimilars and talking to their patients about switching to biosimilars, she said.
Sometimes there are patients who are adamant about staying on the reference product, and when this happens, the provider’s role is to understand what is driving that preference and address any patient concerns. For instance, if the patient is concerned about their disease flaring when they switch, the provider can explain the results of switching studies of similar patients who were on the reference product and switched to a biosimilar.
In addition, she noted that disease flare might actually happen if the patient requires the provider negotiate with insurers for the patient to stay on the reference product. This delay in care could increase the risk of their disease worsening. Finally, patients may not realize that switching to the biosimilar will be the same cost or cheaper than staying on the reference product.
Finally, when faced with payer preferences for certain biosimilars, Abraham and her team will choose a biosimilar that is likely to get the fastest approval for the patient, perhaps because the office staff are familiar with the approval process and the representative on the other end, which will make the process of getting an approval faster.