The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) recently formed a standing Biosimilars Committee for which The Center for Biosimilars® advisory board member, Kashyap Patel, MD, a practicing medical oncologist at Carolina Blood and Cancer Care in South Carolina, was named chair alongside co-chairs immediate past president of COA, Jeff Vacirca MD, FACP, and Michael Diaz, MD, incoming COA president.
The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) recently formed a standing Biosimilars Committee, for which The Center for Biosimilars® advisory board member, Kashyap Patel, MD, a practicing medical oncologist at Carolina Blood and Cancer Care in South Carolina, was named chair alongside co-chairs immediate past president of COA, Jeff Vacirca MD, FACP, and Michael Diaz, MD, incoming COA president.
“Recognizing the importance of biosimilars and the need for educating all oncology professionals, practices, and patients, the COA Board is also announcing the formation of a standing Biosimilars Committee,” read COA’s statement announcing the development.
According to COA, the committee will work to educate providers on the totality of the evidence supporting the use of biosimilars as well as provide information on interchangeability and discuss the state-level rules for pharmacy-level substitution. As part of this educational effort, COA will also develop guidelines aimed at helping pharmacists understand drug interchangeability.
Furthermore, the committee will look to assess the prevalence of biosimilars in the current market as an appropriate treatment option. By collecting these data, COA hopes to widen use of biosimilars and determine how these therapies may play a role in controlling costs for Part B drugs dispensed by community oncologists.
COA’s call for increased biosimilar education and guidance comes at a time at which the need for such efforts is becoming more clear; one recent systematic review found that providers in both Europe and the United States are still taking a cautious approach to prescribing biosimilars, in part because of a lack of awareness of these medicines.
The review relied on data from surveys in the United States and certain European countries, and found that, among other issues, US physicians showed concern and a lack of awareness about interchangeability and pharmacy-level substitution. One survey, conducted in 2016, found that 89.9% of clinicians disagreed with pharmacy-level substitution of a biosimilar. In another survey conducted in 2016, 80% of responding clinicians were unaware that an interchangeability designation could result in automatic substitution.
COA’s Biosimilars Committee will join other COA initiatives that seek to address oncology payment reform and healthcare policy. Notably, Dr. Patel was also elected vice president of COA.