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A UK Clinician Discusses Biosimilars in the Time of COVID-19


Martin Perry, MBChB, BSc, MMEd, FRCP, clinical medical director for the National Health Service in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland, explains frontline care with biosimilars during COVID-19.

The Center for Biosimilars® spoke with Martin Perry, MBChB, BSc, MMEd, FRCP, Clinical Medical Director for the National Health Service (NHS) in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region of Scotland about biosimilar savings and access during COVID-19. Perry was a presenter on the topic during the recent Terrapinn Festival of Biologics meeting in Basel, Switzerland.

Perry oversaw a COVID-19 ward and during this talk with The Center for Biosimilars® Senior Editor Tony Hagen, he explains the challenges of providing treatment for patients. He also sheds light on the United Kingdom's unique system of biosimilar choice and pricing. Access to biosimilars has broadened in the United Kingdom, partly due to the lower cost of these agents; but overall spending on biologics and specialty drugs is on the increase there, as in the United States.

Perry also addresses switching patients from reference products to biosimilars and patient acceptance. Nocebo, or the potential for patients with poor attitudes toward biosimilars to influence their own outcomes, is a very real concern, Perry explains, underscoring the need for strong educational efforts to support biosimilar use.

Brexit, or the United Kingdom's separation from the economic apron strings of the European Union, is well along since the beginning of 2021, and this has resulted in "no notable difference" in biosimilar supply, Perry reports.

The UK continues to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic, and its most recent spike in cases is on the wane; and in the Glasgow/Clyde area the infection rate hasn't been as serious as in the Southeast (London), partly because residents have been more adherent to mask mandates, Perry speculates. Overall, the United Kingdom has seen 1 in 7 residents infected with COVID-19, according to an ongoing New York Times analysis.

Perry says many UK residents are now coping with lingering complications of COVID-19, and the NHS is working to address these issues while seeking to reestablish normal services across the health care spectrum. "Currently, we're in a quieter phase in comparison with other stages" of the pandemic, he says.

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