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Biosimilar Awareness Week in Australia Posted 05/06/2020

The second Biosimilar Awareness Week took place on 25–29 May 2020 in Australia. It involved discussion on social media and aimed to increase awareness and confidence in biosimilars among consumers and healthcare professionals.

Biosimilar Week was launched in Australia in 2019 in order to develop a national conversation about biosimilars. The first Biosimilar Week included the launch of the Generic Biosimilar Medicines Association’s (GBMA) Biosimilar Hub, which hosts guidance for patients, prescribers and pharmacists [1].

The 2020 Biosimilar Awareness Week, which took place on 25–29 May, involved various digital activities across several social media platforms and intended to:

  • Raise awareness of biosimilars among consumers and carers, in particular their role in supporting sustainable health care
  • Increase confidence in the use of biosimilars
  • Raise awareness of the Biosimilar Hub and other resources

Officially opening the week, Australia’s Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said:

‘I am pleased to once again open Biosimilar Awareness Week, an important fixture in the Australian healthcare calendar. It is important for us to consider initiatives that help to support the sustainability of the Australian healthcare system. Biosimilar medicines help to expand the sustainability of the health system, they help with affordability and access which are all immensely important outcomes from the patient’s perspective and immensely important from the systems perspective’.

Facts about biosimilars were available to download from the GBMA’s Biosimilar Hub throughout the week. These included:

  • Eight of the 10 most expensive medicines subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in 2018‒19 were biological medicines (with a combined cost of AU$1.87 billion)
  • Once a biosimilar is launched on the PBS, a statutory reduction of 25% applies to all brands of a medicine
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ensures that biosimilars are as safe and effective as the originator biological
  • Use of biosimilar medicines can lead to reduced costs for the health system

The Australian Government first announced the Biosimilar Awareness Initiative in 2015, as part of the PBS Access and Sustainability Package. In 2018, an AU$5 million grant was awarded to GBMA Education to undertake activities to complement and extend the initiative.

GBMA has recently published a review of the literature on biosimilars, which informs its activities related to this grant [2].

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References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. New biosimilar guide for pharmacists in Australia [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 Jun 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/New-biosimilar-guide-for-pharmacists-in-Australia
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. GBMA publishes quarterly review of biosimilar literature [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 Jun 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Reports/GBMA-publishes-quarterly-review-of-biosimilar-literature

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Source: Generic Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA); Australian Government

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