Patient perspectives on biosimilars in a high uptake country

Biosimilars/Research | Posted 27/05/2022 post-comment0 Post your comment

Several surveys have shown that challenges for patient acceptance of biosimilars include patients’ concerns of quality, safety, and efficacy [1-3], however, there has been lacking more in-depth knowledge of the patient perspective and the underlying rationales for such perspective. Therefore and considering Denmark has one of the highest biosimilar uptakes [4], Varma et al. [5] investigated how Danish patients with psoriasis, arthritic diseases, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) perceived biosimilars.


The study was conducted based on individual and focus group interviews of 12 patients who used originator or biosimilar medicines for treating psoriasis, arthritic diseases, or IBD. The respondents generally perceived biological treatment positively and that their treatment with biologicals had a profound beneficial impact on their daily lives and functioning. These perspectives included, among others, the respondents’ descriptions of how their biological treatments had decreased the impact of their illness on their daily lives, their physical and mental states, and on their work life/educational choices. Generally, the respondents struggled with understanding biosimilarity and they expressed a wish to be informed better about switching. The respondents on originators expressed more reluctance towards switching to biosimilars than the respondents on biosimilars. However, both respondents using originator and biosimilar products expressed concerns from a potential switch between biosimilar and originator products about reoccurrence of disease symptoms or more side effects due to differences in effectiveness and safety [5].

The results show how these respondents were very affected in their daily lives by their diseases before they started receiving biological treatments. The respondents’ descriptions provided some understanding of why they would be concerned to receive a different product than the one with which they already had experience. Further, this appeared to be why the respondents associated a switch (to either originator or biosimilar) as containing a potential risk of disease flare-ups. To resolve this, a suggestion to focus on improving patient information about biosimilars to foster acceptance is not new, but still needed [5].

These findings show that even in a country with high biosimilar uptake, continuous improvement of patient information is still essential. Denmark has worked extensively to support biosimilar acceptance and use among patients and clinicians particularly through a national taskforce [6]. Moreover, the respondents did not have co-payments for their treatments [7]. Thus, Denmark and other countries without full reimbursement for biologicals and a lower biosimilar uptake may benefit from these reported patient perspectives to target future patient information material to facilitate informed, accepted switches between originator and biosimilar products [5].

Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper [5] declared their funding and conflicts of interest in the paper.

Abstracted by Louise C Druedahl, MScPharm, PhD, Copenhagen Centre for Regulatory Science (CORS)/Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL), University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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3. van Overbeeke E, de Beleyr B, de Hoon J, et al. Perception of originator biologics and biosimilars: a survey among Belgian rheumatoid arthritis patients and rheumatologists. BioDrugs. 2017;31(5):447-59.
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5. Varma M, Almarsdóttir AB, Druedahl LC. “Biosimilar, so it looks alike, but what does it mean?” A qualitative study of Danish patients' perceptions of biosimilars. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2022;130(5):581-91.
6. Amgros. Task force to ensure large saving on medicine. 2018 Nov 14 [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from:
7. Barbier L, Simoens S, Vulto AG, et al. European stakeholder learnings regarding biosimilars: part II–improving biosimilar use in clinical practice. BioDrugs. 2020;34(6):797-808.

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