Andre Harvin, PharmD, executive director of pharmacy and oncology services at Cone Health, expressed staunch belief that biosimilars referencing Neulasta Onpro, the on-body injector version of reference pegfilgrastim, are one of the most exciting things coming to the supportive cancer care space.
The prospect for on-body pegfilgrastim biosimilars is one of the most exciting things coming down the pipeline in the supportive cancer space, said Andre Harvin, PharmD, executive director of pharmacy and oncology services at Cone Health.
What are some strategies that clinics and pharmacists can implement to increase biosimilar uptake and realize cost savings?
Harvin: There are a lot of strategies that clinics and hospitals can utilize for biosimilar uptake. Probably the most important thing is to engage your pharmacy team. As pharmacists, we are your drug experts. We're here for you, we're in your corner, and we really understand the benefits that biosimilars have for not only your clinic, but also your patients as well.
One of the most important things is to start with education. Make sure that everyone on the team understands what a biosimilar is and what it's not. The great thing about them is that the FDA has so many great resources that really lays it out. This is the difference between that and maybe a generic. Are there any issues with things like interchangeability and how you can go about operating those? So, there's a lot of resources there, and there's a ton of publications that have been brought out in the last year that talk about successful programs. And so luckily, you don't have to go at it alone. You just have to make sure that you engage your pharmacy team and really focus on the educational aspect.
Most importantly, you're going to realize a ton of cost savings. That's exactly what biosimilars were brought to the market to do. They were brought in to bend the curve down in terms of our spend in overall oncology care. And the most important thing is that this helps patients and their access to really critical medications. And so, if you're not using biosimilars, I think that's a bigger question of how to best implement them.
How to do you feel about the prospect of more supportive care biosimilars coming to the US market, especially as we move closer to having biosimilar competitors for Neulasta Onpro?
Harvin: To me, this is one of the most exciting things when I think about the additional competitors that are coming to the market in biosimilar categories, especially when we think about the Onpro device that's been just so dominant in the market for so many years.
This is a patient access issue, right? Some patients don't have that opportunity or it's difficult for them to come back to the clinic multiple days in a row. And that on-body [device], unfortunately, just because of the patents surrounding it, has been able to be dominant in the market and continuously get more and more expensive.
So now that we have new competitors that are coming in the market that are going to have an equivalent device so that patients can receive their Neulasta [pegfilgrastim] on time, safely, without having to return to the clinic is really one of the most exciting prospects I think for the future of oncology care.
We know that when biosimilars come into the market, regardless of the product, they start to drive prices down, and they drive [them] down quickly and significantly. And this is exactly what we need to support as providers, as clinicians, as supportive care services. We need to find ways to make cancer care cheaper, and I can't think of a better opportunity than to have a biosimilar for the on-body [device]. It's going to be a game changer and I'm really excited for it.