French generics association promotes biosimilars

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French generics association GEMME held its first symposium on the challenges and opportunities associated with biosimilars in France on 3 October 2014.

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The multi-stakeholder event, which was jointly organized by the European Generic medicines Association (EGA) Biosimilar Medicines Sector Group (EBG), was held in Paris and brought together representatives from patient organizations, healthcare professionals, health economists, companies and research institutes to discuss biosimilars in France.

Biologicals represent more than 25% of spending on drugs in France. From the 10 most costly drugs in 2013, seven are biologicals. In the next five years, several major biologicals in oncology and the treatment of autoimmune diseases, accounting for more than Euros 1 billion of annual expenditure in France, will lose their patent protection, opening the door to biosimilars.

Biosimilars are therefore expected to play an increasing role in French healthcare as they offer equivalent but less expensive treatment alternatives, maintain patient access to a high level of care while preserving the healthcare budget and free up resources in the healthcare system. Seven biosimilars are already marketed in France in three therapeutic classes [erythropoietin, human growth hormone and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) a growth factor that stimulates the bone marrow to make more white blood cells].

During the symposium, GEMME shared the findings of a study by a market research institute. Recommendations from the study are to create a climate of trust around these drugs; to educate and inform physicians and patients to support the progressive development of their use; and to encourage prescribing in hospitals to create ‘a biosimilar reflex’. Recommendations on developing biosimilars sustainability will be made to the French Health Authorities in the coming days.

France is the first European country to explicitly permit biosimilar substitution. The substitution is only allowed under certain conditions, including only when initiating a course of treatment and that the prescribing physician has not marked the prescription as ‘non-substitutable’ [1].

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1.   GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. France to allow biosimilars substitution []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2014 Oct 17]. Available from: 

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Source: EGA, GEMME

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