In Survey, Physicians Rank Their Own Confidence as the Primary Barrier to Biosimilar Adoption

When it comes to considering using biosimilars, savings for patients are providers’ top concern, followed by savings to the healthcare system at large. Yet physicians also rate their own confidence levels in biosimilars as a main hurdle for widespread biosimilar adoption.
 
Kelly Davio
October 25, 2019
When it comes to considering using biosimilars, savings for patients are providers’ top concern, followed by savings to the healthcare system at large. Yet physicians also rate their own confidence levels in biosimilars as a main hurdle for widespread biosimilar adoption.

Those findings come from results of an AmerisourceBergen survey, conducted in August of this year, among 105 oncology, nephrology, and rheumatology physicians. Results of the survey were unveiled this week at AmerisourceBergen’s ThinkLive 2019, a 2-day manufacturer summit that brought together approximately 400 drug makers.

Notably, physicians rated their understanding of biosimilars highly, and expressed confidence in their ability to use biosimilars—particularly in new patients—but they still expressed reluctance about switching patients to biosimilars.

Overall, 51% of physicians said they had “complete understanding” of biosimilars, while 36% said they had a “partial/some understanding.” Most were “confident” (46%) or “highly confident” (18%) about their ability to use biosimilars, and most were “confident” (49%) or “highly confident” (16%) about using biosimilars in new patients (30% said they were “neutral,” 3% they were “reluctant,” and 3% said they were “not confident at all.”).

With respect to switching current patients, 43% said they were “confident” and 8% said they were “highly confident.” However, the proportion of respondents who rated themselves “reluctant” rose to 20% in the context of switching (26% were “neutral” and 4% were “not confident at all”).

According to AmerisourceBergen, that finding “tells us that there’s still a precarious balance between education and economics; just because they understand biosimilars doesn’t mean they’ll use them.” That observation appears to be underscored by the respondents themselves, 74% of whom said that physician confidence is the main barrier to widespread biosimilar adoption.

Other findings from the survey show that, in making decisions on contracting, purchasing, or procuring biosimilars, 37% of respondents rated a biosimilar’s price relative to the reference product to be the most important factor. Price was followed by payer coverage (35%), market applicability (23%), and Q code availability at the time of launch (5%).  

In terms of the cost savings that physicians hope to see from biosimilars, 37% said that they hope to see 20% to 30% total cost reduction relative to reference prices, which AmerisourceBergen notes is roughly in line with current cost savings generated by marketed biosimilars. Another 19% said that they hope for a 30% to 40% reduction, 18% hoped for reductions of more than 40%. Meanwhile, 22% said that they would adopt a biosimilar at less than a 20% cost reduction, and the remaining 4% did not require a cost reduction in order to use a biosimilar.

In looking to the future, the respondents said they anticipate relatively high adoption of biosimilars in the coming year; 31% said they anticipate 10% to 20% adoption over the next 12 months.

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