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Education for biosimilars in Europe and the US Posted 05/03/2021

Education on biosimilars for both prescribers and patients is an area that has received focus in both Europe and the US according to a report produced for the Biosimilars Council [1].

The availability of biosimilars may improve access to health care by increasing the number of therapeutic options available at potentially lower costs. Despite this fact, both prescribers and patients are often still wary about biosimilars [2, 3].

Education is an area where many European countries have excelled in how quickly and widely policymakers and others have grasped the significance of physician and patient awareness and acceptance of biosimilars.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), individual European countries and other stakeholders have launched successful education campaigns designed to foster comfort with and confidence in the safety and efficacy of biosimilars.

Examples of this include EMA’s animated video published in eight European languages for patients that explains key facts on biosimilars and how EMA works to ensure that they are as safe and effective as their reference biologicals [4]. This was published to complement the Questions & Answers on Biosimilars for patients, which was published in 23 EU languages in 2017 [5].

Germany has also been praised for ‘being proactive in reaching out to physicians in order to encourage them to prescribe biosimilars’ and for its ‘significant investment in physician education’. According to IMS, ‘physicians were approached by their Kassenärztliche Vereinigung (regional physicians’ association) early on, using open communication channels and discussion forums to build trust in the biosimilar concept’.

The European Specialist Nurses Organisation (ESNO) drew praise for issuing a guide for switching patients from reference biologicals to biosimilars. The guide includes sections on the theory of change management and how nurses should manage the exchange between reference biologicals and biosimilars, as well as follow-up and support for patients and pharmacovigilance [6].

Meanwhile, in the US, the Biosimilars Forum launched a new biosimilars education initiative back in 2016. The ‘Partnership for Biosimilars Education and Access’ focuses on raising awareness and encouraging access to biosimilars in the US [7]. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also started producing educational materials aimed at healthcare providers and patients. In 2017, the agency released educational materials including fact sheets and graphics for healthcare professionals, as well as materials for organizations to use in disseminating this information to their interested members. Then, in April 2020, FDA released new public information on its website, clarifying the difference between biosimilars and interchangeable biologicals, which begins by defining biologicals as ‘medicines that come from living organisms’ [8].

The authors conclude that, although the US is moving in the right direction with respect to education, ‘they should make a concerted effort to advance more rapidly’.

Related articles
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Price controls, competition and pricing for biosimilars

How do the biosimilar markets in the US and Europe compare?

What can the US learn from the European biosimilars market?

LATIN AMERICAN FORUM – Coming soon!

To further enhance the objectives of GaBI in sharing information and knowledge that ensure policies supportive of safe biosimilars use, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching a new section on GaBI Online and GaBI Journal, the ‘Latin American Forum’ (in Spanish) featuring the latest news and updates on research and developments in generic and biosimilar medicines in Latin America.

Register to receive the GaBI Latin American Forum newsletter. Inform colleagues and friends of this new initiative.

 

LATIN AMERICAN FORUM – Próximamente!

Para fomentar los objetivos de GaBI sobre la difusión de información y conocimiento sobre las políticas de apoyo que garantizan el uso seguro de medicamentos biosimilares, nos complace anunciar el lanzamiento de una nueva sección en GaBI Online y GaBI Journal, el ‘Latin American Forum’ (en español), que presentará las últimas noticias y actualizaciones en investigación y desarrollo sobre medicamentos genéricos y biosimilares en Latinoamérica.

Regístrese para recibir el boletín informativo GaBI Latin American Forum. Informe a colegas y amigos sobre esta nueva iniciativa. 

References
1. Biosimilars Council. Brill A, Robinson C. Lessons for the United States from Europe’s biosimilar experience. June 2020 [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2021 Feb 5]. Available from: https://biosimilarscouncil.org/resource/europes-biosimilar-experience/
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biosimilar education gaps in oncology [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/Research/Biosimilar-education-gaps-in-oncology 
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. What oncologists do not understand about biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/Research/What-oncologists-do-not-understand-about-biosimilars 
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Patients’ perceptions of switching to biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/Research/Patients-perceptions-of-switching-to-biosimilars 
4. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Improving understanding of biotherapeutics and biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/Improving-understanding-of-biotherapeutics-and-biosimilars 
5. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. EC publishes biosimilar Q&A document for patients in 23 languages [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/EC-publishes-biosimilar-Q-A-document-for-patients-in-23-languages 
6. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. European nurses launch biosimilar switching guide [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 1]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/European-nurses-launch-biosimilar-switching-guide 
7. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Launch of partnership for biosimilars education and access [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/Launch-of-partnership-for-biosimilars-education-and-access 
8. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. FDA releases new information on interchangeable biologicals [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Mar 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/FDA-releases-new-information-on-interchangeable-biologicals

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How to increase the uptake of biosimilars is an important issue in both Europe and the US and was discussed in a report produced for the Biosimilars Council [1].

Source: Biosimilars Council

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