Biologic medications are an integral, crucial, and effective part of medical management for many life-threatening diseases and conditions, including cancer. As a recent position paper by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) points out, the anticancer market is expected to pass the €140 billion (apx. $157 billion) by 2020.
Biologic medications are an integral, crucial, and effective part of medical management for many life-threatening diseases and conditions, including cancer. As a recent position paper by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) points out, the anticancer market is expected to pass the €140 billion (apx. $157 billion) by 2020, forcing nations around the world to confront the challenge of healthcare-system sustainability and patient access to these important medications. “Biological and medicinal products, or those whose active substance is made by a living organism, will represent 19% [to] 20% of the total global share of pharmaceutical sales by 2017, and thus form an essential part of the anticancer medicines offering,” ESMO explains.
Biosimilars, typically marketed at discounts relative to originator drugs, present a necessary opportunity for patients, physicians, and healthcare systems to positively impact the financial sustainability of global health systems when they are developed in clinically suitable ways, manufactured to correct standards, and used appropriately. Biosimilar clinical development must be recognized as an opportunity for healthcare in light of potential savings in a future where these drugs could compete with originator drugs, as noted by Emilio Bria (University of Verona) and Pierfranco Conte (University of Padua and Instituto Oncologico Veneto) in an accompanying editorial.
As the majority of monoclonal antibodies are due to reach patent expiry by 2020, the oncology landscape faces changes, ESMO notes. To ensure that patients are being prescribed the safest, most effective treatments possible, all key players must understand the complexities of biosimilars and make decisions in patients’ best interests. In addition, it is important to increase confidence in biosimilars among prescribers and patients so that continued adoption and uptake of biosimilars results in greater patient access to important biologic treatments.
The position paper, published in January 2017 in ESMO Open, describes issues concerning biosimilars that are particularly relevant to the oncology field:
The introduction of biosimilars is expected to have a cumulative potential savings of €50 billion to €100 billion by 2020. ESMO recommends monitoring the potential impacts of biosimilars on financial burdens in health care, keeping in mind that the potential savings has a direct correlation with the successful uptake of biosimilars. “Globally, the next 5 years will be important for biosimilars, for their uptake and their impact on healthcare systems,” the paper concludes.