Sandoz-created biosimilar initiative pushes for improved access
Sandoz, the generics and biosimilars division of Novartis, has launched Act4Biosimilars with the aim of increasing patient access, by targeting ‘four As’: approvability, accessibility, acceptability and affordability.
The initiative will be led by Sandoz, which is the founding sponsor of Act4Biosimilars, alongside a steering committee comprised of patient advocacy leaders, healthcare professionals, biosimilar experts and industry leaders, the company stated.
The steering committee will be tasked with creating an action plan to meet 12 aims set for the organization, which include streamlining approval and strong policies for switching to biosimilars. Once created, the action plan is expected to provide strategies, tools and activities to reach the 12 goals.
When asked about what further steps Act4Biosimilars will take, the response of a spokesperson for Sandoz said it would “create solutions and resources for international and local country use; and take an active role in communicating the Act4Biosimilars mission, actions, and tools to decision-makers, peers, and other key stakeholders in their region/countries.”
In terms of which countries will make up the first 30 being targeted, the spokesperson stated that the countries were assembled based on an assessment which included “each country’s level of biosimilar uptake, state of relevant policy environment and healthcare system characteristics.”
The list itself is made up of countries from across the globe, including certain countries that will currently have limited access to biosimilar products, such as in South America and Africa. Amongst the countries on the list are also high-income countries, such as Germany, France and the US.
The US remains a significant market for biosimilars that has not yet seen the same uptake as Europe. The difficulties encountered by even the biggest pharma companies in trying to create a bigger market for biosimilars has led to some companies exiting the biosimilar space.
Biogen sold its stake in its biosimilar joint venture, while Viatris, formed when Pfizer spun off its generics and biosimilar portfolio alongside Mylan, also chose to divest its biosimilar assets.
The spokesperson for Sandoz outlined that multiple factors can influence uptake of biosimilars, including experience with the products themselves. Of all markets, Europe has the most experience and has potentially seen higher uptake as a result – Europe’s first biosimilar approval happened in 2006, compared to 2015 in the US.
The companies most invested in biosimilars will be looking for the US to catch up to Europe, in terms of uptake. With Sandoz’ future as part of the Novartis business currently still under ‘strategic review’, any sale or spinout would heighten the importance of biologics within its portfolio to provide an area of higher growth.