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UK launches campaign to promote research on biosimilars Posted 17/11/2017

A new campaign launched by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) aims to unlock the potential benefits of biosimilars in the National Health Service (NHS) through clinical trials.

In 2015/16, the NHS spent over GBP 416 million for the biological adalimumab. This is the biggest spend in the UK for a single drug. Currently, six of the top 10 medicines (in terms of spend) prescribed in UK hospitals are biologicals. With patent expiries for leading biologicals on the horizon, the UK wants to encourage the life sciences industry to develop less expensive similar versions of biologicals known as biosimilars.

The campaign, which is called ‘Focus on Biosimilars’, was launched on 16 October 2017. The campaign will explore some of the key questions associated with unlocking the potential benefits of biosimilars in the NHS including:

  • Why should life science industry companies bring their clinical trials to the UK?
  • Why should NHS health professionals support clinical trials of biosimilar drugs?
  • Why should patients consider taking part in a clinical trial or switching programme?

The UK hopes that the lower cost of biosimilars will help to ensure the sustainability of the NHS. According to the NIHR, ‘they will also broaden access to cutting edge treatments by providing new treatment options for patients who don’t quite meet the current biologic[al]s prescribing thresholds’. 

Relatively low usage of biologicals reduces the UK’s attractiveness as a biosimilars market [1]. Biosimilars in the UK make up only 30% of the volume market share of their reference product, despite the fact that the UK has one of the highest market shares of generics in Europe [2]. However, the NIHR says that ‘the uptake and acceptance of biosimilars has rapidly accelerated across the NHS in recent years’ - the clinical evidence base is growing, benefits are beginning to be realized and cost savings are coming to the fore.

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References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biosimilar policies in the UK [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2017 Nov 17]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Reports/Biosimilar-policies-in-the-UK
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. UK biosimilars uptake lower than in some other EU countries [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2017 Nov 17]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Reports/UK-biosimilars-uptake-lower-than-in-some-other-EU-countries

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Source: NHS

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