To Switch or Not to Switch: Biosimilars in Rheumatology

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Although biosimilars have been proven to have equivalent efficacy and no clinically meaningful differences in safety and immunogenicity compared with their reference products, the use of biosimilars in rheumatology has generated much debate among clinicians, patients, drug manufacturers, and payers, among others. While several of these biopharmaceuticals are still in the pipeline, biosimilars of originators, including adalimumab, etanercept, and infliximab have been approved for the treatment of patients with rheumatic diseases.

In this episode, we get further insight into the current state of biosimilars development and adoption in the United States vs other countries, interchangeability among both adult and pediatric patients with rheumatologic conditions, nonmedical switching to biosimilars, and an overview of potential cost benefits for the healthcare system.  

Our featured guest is Jonathan Kay, MD, professor of medicine and population and quantitative health sciences, Timothy S. and Elaine L. Peterson Chair in Rheumatology, and director of clinical research, Division of Rheumatology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Featured Guest

Jonathan Kay, MD, is a professor of medicine and population and quantitative health sciences, and holds the Timothy S. and Elaine L. Peterson Chair in Rheumatology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA, where he directs clinical research in the Division of Rheumatology. Dr Kay’s clinical appointment is as a physician at UMass Memorial Medical Center, also in Worcester, MA. He received his medical degree from the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, California, and then completed an internship and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and fellowships in rheumatology and immunology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.

Dr Kay is a fellow of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the American College of Physicians. In 2018, he received the Distinguished Service Award from ACR and was awarded honorary membership in the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). He is an ad hoc reviewer for many journals and a member of the editorial boards of Best Practice & Research: Clinical Rheumatology and RMD Open.

Dr Kay’s clinical interests span the spectrum of rheumatic diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis (RA), spondyloarthropathies, and other forms of inflammatory arthritis. He was a member of the group that developed the 2010 ACR/EULAR Diagnostic and Classification Criteria for RA. He chaired the Rheumatology Working Group and was a member of the Internal Medicine and Musculoskeletal Topic Advisory Groups for the World Health Organization (WHO) in its revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-11.

Over the past three decades, Dr Kay’s clinical research has focused on nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (formerly known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy), β2-microglobulin amyloidosis, and other rheumatologic problems of patients with chronic kidney disease. He has been a principal investigator for over 60 clinical trials of novel therapies for RA, axial spondyloarthritis, gout, and osteoarthritis. Over the past decade, he has been involved in the development of biosimilars to treat rheumatic diseases. Dr Kay lectures internationally and is the author of more than 230 publications and book chapters.