Biosimilar Awareness Week Proves Successful for Australia

Skylar Jeremias

The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association in Australia reported its 2020 Biosimilar Awareness Week was successful, with educational messages from the event reaching over 540,000 Australians via social media.

The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) in Australia reported its 2020 Biosimilar Awareness Week was successful, with the event reaching over 540,000 Australians via social media.

The event, which took place May 25 to 29, 2020, featured educational messages surrounding biosimilars and their potential roles in ensuring a sustainable health care system for the future. Clinicians, pharmacists, professional groups, patient representatives, patients, and caregivers were among those who participated.

“It is fantastic to see the success achieved this year; and building on this momentum, a range of new educational resources for biosimilar medicines are currently in development and will be made available later in the year,” said Marnie Peterson, CEO of GBMA Education, the educational arm of GBMA, in a statement.

This is the second annual Biosimilar Awareness Week presented by GBMA Education, and it is part of the group’s broader Biosimilars Education Program supported by the Australian government through the use of the Biosimilar Education Grant.

GBMA received the grant in April 2018 to develop educational programming for Australian stakeholders, with the aim of increasing confidence in biosimilars.

Since then, collective efforts from the wider health care industry have caused an increase in biosimilar uptake in Australia. Biosimilars jumped from a 15.4% market share in 2018 to 23.9% by January 2020.

Australia’s Biosimilar Education Efforts

In May 2019, GBMA used the Biosimilar Education Grant to launch an educational portal, The Biosimilar Hub, designed to provide information on biosimilars for prescribers, pharmacists, and patients. Biosimilars Awareness Week was hosted on The Biosimilar Hub and generated an increased level of visitors.

In May 2015, the Australian government created the Biosimilar Awareness Initiative as part of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Access and Sustainability Package, with the goal of increasing biosimilar awareness and confidence for health care providers and consumers.

However, a study from April 2020 revealed that despite a national initiative to make the Australian public more aware of biosimilars, Australian patients may have a low familiarity with biosimilar therapy.

Additionally, GBMA Education is looking to unveil a new accredited on-demand webinar series, later this year, that will bring together general practitioner, specialist, and pharmacist groups to discuss their views, insights, and experiences around biosimilar use.

Social media channels for the @BiosimilarsAu handle on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn helped generate mass awareness and online engagement for Biosimilar Awareness Week.

According to Peterson, the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association is also planning to support a Global Biosimilars Week for later this year.

Australia’s Biosimilar Industry

Australia currently has 26 biosimilar medicines on the market, 8 of which launched in 2019. Their first, Novacrit (epoetin lambda), entered the market in January 2010, 5 years before the United States launched its first biosimilar.

For reference, the United States currently has 28 approved biosimilars and 17 on the market. The most recent biosimilar to launch in Australia was a pegfilgrastim (Fulphila) biosimilar, from Mylan and Biocon, in April 2020.

“Biosimilar medicines are becoming increasingly available in Australia. That’s why educational initiatives like Biosimilar Awareness Week are so important—as greater understanding and use of biosimilar medicines can help support the sustainability of the Australian health care system,” said Peterson.