A study of pharmacist-driven substitution of brand-name biologicals with biosimilars has shown that this can lead to substantial cost savings in the setting of a community oncology practice.
The results of the study were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, which was held online on 4–8 June 2021.
The community oncology practice, Texas Oncology, elected to increase the use of biosimilars in 2020. They started with rituximab in July 2020, followed by bevacizumab in September 2020 and finally trastuzumab in October 2020. In order to facilitate the substitution educational materials were created for both patients and clinical staff. A central pharmacy team then reviewed all new orders and substituted a biosimilar for the brand-name biological unless a payer insisted on the originator drug or a biosimilar not in the practice formulary. The pharmacists, upon consultation with the physician, then substituted a biosimilar for the brand-name biological.
Between January and December 2020, the practice was able to increase its use of biosimilars from 5% to 80% for rituximab, 9% to 88% for bevacizumab and 8% to 74% for trastuzumab. Based on the average market-based price for a 70 kg patient, the potential savings per administration were calculated to be US$550 for bevacizumab, US$850 for trastuzumab and US$1,400 for rituximab. In one month alone, this project dramatically reduced costs by US$4 million or 21% by substituting expensive brand-name biologicals with more cost-effective biosimilars. The authors also added that ‘additional savings can be realized with the use of biosimilar multi-dose vials vs single dose vials’.
The authors concluded that substituting biosimilars for brand-name drugs in a community oncology practice ‘leads to substantial cost savings’ and that this has ‘real implications in controlling the total cost of care’.
Conflict of interest
The authors of the abstract  did not provide any conflict-of-interest statement.
It should be noted that data of the study presented in this article were published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Readers interested to learn more about pharmacist-driven substitution of biosimilars are invited to visit www.gabi-journal.net to view the following manuscripts published in GaBI Journal:
Global policies on pharmacy-mediated substitution of biosimilars: a summary
Pharmacy-mediated substitution of biosimilars – a global survey benchmarking country substitution policies
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1. Wilfong LS, Dave N, Garey JS, et al. A successful model of biosimilar adoption in a community oncology practice. Abstract presented at: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Online, 4–8 June 2021; Abstract no. 6514.
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