Claudia Palme – director of 55East Management Consulting in Dubai, and a former Novartis and Amgen executive – raised concerns that medical practitioners worldwide lacked biosimilar industry knowledge.
“From personal experience, there is still a lack of information,” she told delegates at the CPhI Pre-Connect Congress in Frankfurt last month.
“If you ask the average GP [general practitioner] in your home country if he or she knows what a biosimilar is, I would love to see the results,” she said, adding that in her personal experience, they have “no clue.”
While biosimilars have been approved in Europe for over a decade, and in the US since 2015, one of the reasons for this lack of knowledge relates to biosimilars’ limited indications, Palme suggested.
To date, approved biosimilars largely cover growth factors and autoimmune disorders. However, biosimilars to treat various cancers are beginning to break through, such as the recent US approval of Amgen’s Mvasi (bevacizumab).
A number of healthcare systems and industry organisations have pushed to improve public awareness and education about biosimilars, including the UK’s National Institute of Health (NIH) – part of the National Health Service (NHS) – which has launched a website dedicated to educating the public about biosimilar drugs.
The website – named Focus on Biosimilars – provides information on the background and development of biologic drugs for specific indications.
“The website also provides links to related information, including updates from the [US Food and Drug Administration] and other international regulatory organisations, advice about local adoption of biosimilars, patient organisations and foundations, and links to information about how to participate in UK clinical trials of biosimilars,” said the Centre for Biosimilars in a statement.
Others pushing for greater education for physicians and patients include US-based Biosimilars Forum, which has a number of major biosimilar developrs as members, including Pfizer, Merck, Samsung Bioepis, and Teva.
Stakeholders including The European Generic medicines Association (EGA), the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) also campaigned for increased awareness, with the establishment of a biosimilars guide.