Christine Simmon, senior vice president of policy and strategic alliances for the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) and executive director of The Biosimilars Council, told The Center for Biosimilars® at the 2017 AAM Biosimilars Council Conference that upcoming product approvals in the biosimilar space are exciting prospects not only for the industry, but, most importantly, for patients.
Christine Simmon, senior vice president of policy and strategic alliances for the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) and executive director of The Biosimilars Council, told The Center for Biosimilars® at the 2017 AAM Biosimilars Council Conference that upcoming product approvals in the biosimilar space are exciting prospects not only for the industry, but most importantly, for patients.
“Certainly, the more competition we have for expensive—and wonderful—biologic medicines is the best thing for patients and for the marketplace in general. To think that we will, hopefully, soon have 7 biosimilars approved is very exciting for the industry," says Simmon.
Looking ahead to upcoming product approvals, such as the expected approval of biosimilar bevacizumab this week, Simmon said, “The oncology field is a very exciting one for biosimilars; we want to work hard with the entire cancer community to educate providers and patients about the value of biosimilars, because there still is a lot of confusion out there.”
In attempting to allay some of that confusion, Simmons says that she wants patients to feel confident in using biosimilar medications prescribed to them by their healthcare providers: “I’d like patients to know that, when the FDA approves a biosimilar, they’re approving it as a safe and effective medicine that is highly similar to the biologic, and that the difference between a biosimilar and a biologic is really no different from batch-to-batch biologics. So, I want them to know that they can have confidence in the FDA and in their medical professionals who are prescribing these biosimilars, and that they can have confidence in these products.”
While patients have not yet seen significant reductions in their out-of-pocket costs with the introduction of 3 biosimilar products in the US marketplace, Simmons sees strong potential for more biosimilar products competing for market share with biologics to increase patient access to these expensive treatments. According to Simmon, “1.2 million patients will have access to biologics and biosimilars just as a result of biosimilars entering the market. In particular, female patients, elderly patients, and low-income patients will benefit. We think there’s so much room for growth and a positive patient experience with these products.”
The road ahead for biosimilars will be a challenging one, however. As Simmons says, “We have a long way to go, but the FDA is clearly working hard, and we think it’s very encouraging that they’ve released a lot of the critical guidance.” And ultimately, “The more products the better, the more we’ll learn about the marketplace, patient acceptance, and provider support for these products. It’ll still be in flux for a while as we continue to learn.”