The US needs to learn from Europe to increasing access to biosimilars

Biosimilars/Research | Posted 18/02/2022 post-comment0 Post your comment

Europe has been leading the way when it comes to encouraging the use of biosimilars. This is especially true in Scandinavian countries, such as Norway, which are seen as leading the way when it comes to switching and substitution of biosimilars in Europe [1]. In fact, an analysis by Norwegian researchers has found that ‘tremendous savings’ could be realized in the US should the country implement similar strategies [2].

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The problem is that biosimilars currently make up only 2.3% of the US biologicals marketplace. Currently, 90% of global biosimilars sales take place in Europe, despite 60% of overall biologicals sales occurring in the US [3].

In order to investigate this, author Kvien and colleagues reviewed the challenges to increased biosimilar use in the US and the successful strategies employed to increase biosimilar uptake in the European Union (EU).

The authors found that obstacles to biosimilar uptake in the US included:
• reimbursement and rebates
• patent litigation
• physician and patient concerns

The authors recommended the following actions to increase biosimilar use in the US:
• US government
- Increase approvals (decrease patent litigation)
- Introduce national tender systems, such as those in Denmark and Norway
- Relaxation of requirements for interchangeability

• Healthcare systems
- Financial incentives to healthcare systems
- Reducing rebates for originator biologicals

• Medical associations
- Promotion of biosimilar use
- Education about the efficacy and safety of biosimilars

The authors found that ‘the EU has demonstrated strategies that work’. They add that the US needs ‘to adapt those strategies’ to fit its own healthcare system ‘to alleviate some of its financial burden and to increase access of patients to medications that might otherwise be unaffordable to them’.

They concluded that ‘greater utilization of biosimilars in the US is an achievable goal but the federal government, pharmaceutical companies, and medical associations/institutions will need to work together to address patient and physician concerns and to remove incentives for using more expensive treatment options’.

Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper [2] declared that there was no conflict of interest.

Editor’s comment
Readers interested to learn more about biosimilar policies in Norway are invited to visit www.gabi-journal.net to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:

Norway, biosimilars in different funding systems. What works?

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References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Switching approaches to biosimilars in Nordic countries [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2022 Feb 18]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/reports/Switching-approaches-to-biosimilars-in-Nordic-countries
2. Kvien TK, Patel K, Strand V. The cost savings of biosimilars can help increase patient access and lift the financial burden of health care systems. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2022;52:151939.
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. The sluggish US biosimilars market [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2022 Feb 18]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/reports/The-sluggish-US-biosimilars-market

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