The Center for Biosimilars (CB) interviewed Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr, PhD, professor emeritus, Widener University, and editorial board member of The Center for Biosimilars, on where the field stands today.
CB: What would be an ideal way to expand familiarity with biosimilars within the medical healthcare community?
Fuhr: Educational programs are the best way and this includes such entities as the FDA, pharmaceutical companies, and payers to educate physicians and patients.
CB: How can the oncology community in particular benefit from extended knowledge of biosimilars and, conversely, benefit the biosimilar industry?
Fuhr: Oncology drugs are some of the highest priced drugs. Biosimilars can decrease the price of these drugs, thus increasing access and improving the quality of life of more patients.
CB: Do you believe that biosimilar treatment options will make treatment more affordable?
Fuhr: Yes. Competition will lead to lower prices and we have seen this in the European Union.
CB: What would be the best-case scenario for biosimilar incorporation into mainstream medicine from a healthcare policy/cost perspective?
Fuhr: As patents expire and more biosimilars enter [the market], prices will decrease. It will take a while for the market to fully develop.
CB: What, in your opinion, is the greatest benefit represented by biosimilar uptake?
Fuhr: Lower prices and greater access, which will benefit consumers and help decrease prices in the healthcare market. Also, it will result in innovators’ attempting to find benefits on new drugs as profits on old drugs decline. Biosimilars will thus benefit society.
CB: Do you recognize the need for educating healthcare professionals and patients on biosimilars?
Fuhr: Many patients and physicians are unaware of what biosimilars are and the process that they must go through to achieve FDA approval. People are not going to purchase or prescribe something which they do not understand.
CB: Would biosimilars raise challenges with formulary management for health plans and for clinical pharmacies?
Fuhr: Any time a new alternative comes to market, formulary management and clinical pharmacies must make a decision on the circumstances under which they will adopt the alternative. So, they must decide on the quality and price of the product to determine not only if it will go onto the formulary but also on what tier in terms of health plans.