TOPIC SERIES: BIOSIMILAR DRUGS

Gaps in knowledge regarding biosimilars were recently identified by researchers between patients receiving these drugs, their caregivers, and the general population.1  The largest gap in perceptions were regarding biosimilar efficacy, with higher percentages patients in advocacy groups agreeing with the statement “biosimilars provide effective care at reasonable cost” than the general population. A critical misperception regarding clinical trial designs for biosimilars was also found.

Researchers conducted an international survey covering biosimilar medication-class awareness, usage, efficacy, perceptions, and role of advocacy groups.  The survey was sent to patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, representing indications for which several biosimilar drugs are either currently approved or seeking approval. They were further categorized into those who had actively participated in support groups.


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The survey was also distributed to caregivers of patients with the above conditions and a sampling of the general population consisting of people between the ages of 18-64.

Based on 3198 respondents, authors found the following:

  • As expected, an increased percentage of patients diagnosed with any of the conditions above were more aware of biosimilars compared with the general population.  Only 6% of the general population had any general impression of biosimilars
  • These patients, however, responded that they were not well-informed about efficacy, safety, and access to the medication
  • Roughly a quarter of thse patients reported perceived barriers to participation in clinical trials evaluating biosimilars, with concerns regarding possible placebo treatment, trust, and maintenance of adequate medication response noted
  • Involvement in patient advocacy groups increased awareness of biosimilars and willingness to participate in clinical trials

Since approved current clinical trials evaluating biosimilars in patients with active disease compare the reference product to the biosimilar (with no placebo group), the patients’ impressions regarding receiving placebo in clinical trials are concerning, leaving room for improvement in patient education.

“Patient education programs, developed in partnership with advocacy groups should provide patients with the necessary information to make informed decisions about the use of these products,” the authors concluded.

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Limitations and Disclosures

This research was sponsored by Pfizer Inc. Pfizer contributed to the design and conduct of the study, collection and analysis of data, and review of the manuscript.

Reference

1. Jacobs I, Singh E, Sewell KL, Al-sabbagh A, Shane LG. Patient attitudes and understanding about biosimilars: an international cross-sectional survey. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2016;10:937-48.