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Biosimilars allow fast access to biological drug therapy in Bavaria, Germany Posted 18/09/2020

A new study has shown that patients suffering from rheumatism in Bavaria, Germany, are now likely to be prescribed a biological medicine much faster than five years ago.  Results of the study were shared at the AG Pro Biosimilars digital symposium on 14 September 2020.

In their investigation, the Bavarian Medical Association (KV Bayern) carried out a survey of rheumatism patients. They found that the average time a rheumatism patient had to wait for biological drug therapy in 2015 was 7.4 years, whereas now, this is 0.3 years. The reduction in waiting time can be at least partly explained by the introduction of biosimilars, which began in 2015. These are successor products of previously patent-protected biologicals for rheumatism patients and they work the same way; but are significantly cheaper than the original product.

Summary of key findings
• Before the launch of the first biosimilar approved for rheumatism, rheumatism patients in Bavaria waited an average of 7.4 years for biological therapy.
• Since 2015, a total of three biosimilars for rheumatism patients have been launched. After each market launch, the waiting time was shortened.
• Now, patients in Bavaria requiring a biological product, only wait an average of 0.3 years before the start of treatment.
• At the same time, the number of rheumatism patients receiving drug therapy increased in Bavaria (up by almost 25%).
• The number of rheumatism patients treated with a biological drug also increased, from 13.5 % in 2014 to 18.7 % in 2019.

The Chairman of the AG Pro Biosimilars symposium, Peter Stenico, Head Specialty Sandoz Deutschland/Hexal AG, stated that these figures are good news for all rheumatism patients. Treatment with a biological often marks a return to a form of normal everyday life. The reduction in waiting times shows that biosimilars act to relieve healthcare systems and mark a path towards personalised medicine where each individual patient receives the exact therapy they need at the exact time they need.

These results show that, in the treatment of rheumatism, the penetration of biosimilars has been effective in Bavaria. However, in recent years, concerns have been raised about the slow uptake of biosimilars in Germany as a whole, compared to other European nations [1].

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1. Ludwig W-D, Dicheva D. Biosimilars in Germany: guidance of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association. Generics and Biosimilars Initiative Journal (GaBI Journal). 2017;6(4):178-80. doi:10.5639/gabij.2017.0604.037

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