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Biosimilars - the Brexit of the pharmaceutical industry?

In this article, Senior Consultant Jenna Earl explains what factors influence the uptake of biosimilars in the UK, comparing them to the same principles that help us navigate the complexities of Britain exiting the EU (Brexit).
Despite availability of biosimilars for nearly a decade, uptake in the UK is still lagging behind other EU markets, leading to the recent formation of the British Biosimilars Association (BBA) - part of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA). Biosimilars are undoubtedly a hot topic for providers of branded biologic medicines, biosimilar suppliers themselves, and the payers, healthcare professionals and patients involved in biologic treatment. Much like the EU referendum, they feature regularly in the news - with spectators waiting anxiously, in some cases eagerly, for a change that could alter the treatment landscape for several significant therapy areas. To understand the factors influencing the uptake of biosimilars you could apply the same principles as you would to navigating the complexities of Britain exiting the EU (Brexit).

1. Control is in the hands of the people

Britain's relationship with the EU will be decided by a referendum, placing the decision in the hands of the people. In the UK, the decision to prescribe a biosimilar is still largely down to the healthcare professional (HCP) but, if this were to change, impact on biologic markets could be dramatic. Despite NICE recommending biosimilars ahead of branded biologics in several disease areas, this does not appear to be happening in clinical practice. The next step for governing bodies to ensure biosimilars are prioritised in the treatment pathway is substitution, replacing a branded biologic with its corresponding biosimilar at point of dispensing; a move that would result in a huge uplift in biosimilar use. Arguably, the reason this hasn’t happened yet is that the financial gain generated by such a move does not yet outweigh the repercussions of reducing the role of the HCP in such an important decision. But with increasing pressure on the NHS to make cost savings and expect greater value from treatments, this could change in the future. 

Read the full article on the Blue Latitude Health blog

14th June 2016

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