During the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) congress in Amsterdam earlier this month, Celltrion Healthcare – the privately owned distribution and marketing partner to public Korean biosimilar maker Celltrion – presented the results of a survey of ECCO members which it says demonstrates the support for switching patients to biosimilar versions of J&J’s Remicade (infliximab).
“The ECCO 2015 survey has shown an increase in confidence level for biosimilar uptake among IBD specialists,” a Celltrion Healthcare spokesperson told Biopharma-Reporter.com. “Around 80% of physicians said they were either totally confident, very confident or confident enough in using biosimilars, which is a dramatic change compared to 39% in a 2013 survey.”
He attributed this jump to the availability of real-world data, with studies of nearly 600 IBD patients using infliximab biosimilars supporting clinical trial findings.
While the survey represents a 40% jump in acceptance, one in five physicians still feel little or no confidence in the use of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies. However, Celltrion Healthcare believes this will change as more clinical real-world data becomes available.
“As with all new medical developments, some people need more time than others to evaluate the evidence. We hope that as we continue to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of biosimilar infliximab through ongoing clinical trials and by reporting real world cases we can help to reassure those who may have ongoing concerns.”
Independent switching study
Biosimilar acceptance may also be boosted by the results of a Norwegian biosimilar comparison study expected later this year.
The 20m NOK ($3.3m) study, which began in December 2013 and is funded by the Norwegian Health Department, focuses on the switching of Remicade with copycat versions with the goal of increasing the uptake of these cheaper drugs.
Switching from the branded drug to its biosimilar is “not a part of the European approval,” Steinar Madsen, Medical Director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency told Biopharma-Reporter.com back in 2013, and therefore “it is important to collect more scientific knowledge in this matter.”
This will “increase physician and patient confidence,” he said, and “eventually facilitate switching.”