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Karen van Caulil, PhD, on Biosimilar Uptake in Oncology Patient Care


Karen van Caulil, PhD, president and CEO at Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value, discusses the difficulty her institution has had in getting providers and employers to switch to biosimilars.

Karen van Caulil, PhD, is the president and CEO at Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value.


Why is an uptake in biosimilars use important to oncology patient care, and what struggles has your practice faced to make it happen?

We've been educating employers about biosimilars almost the whole 10 years that I've been [at Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value], maybe 8 years. There has been very limited uptake. There have been a lot of barriers to that happening, whether that's the reference product company putting up barriers on their end, or maybe it's the health plan and the [pharmacy benefit manager]. The rebates have been a challenge as well because the employers like to get those rebates from the reference product. We've educated them about how, even when you look at the amount of the rebate, it might still be better to offer that biosimilar. And then, oncologists have said, “Hey, there's a bunch of different biosimilars for certain products and it's an inventory issue. So, we can't afford to stock all of these different biosimilars with the hope that they'll be utilized.”

We're really working hard to find a way to encourage that uptake, because the manufacturers have told us [they] may not continue to manufacture them if there isn't more significant utilization, and it looks like there's about 30% to 40% savings in most cases. I will caveat that there are instances where the reference product might actually be less expensive based on how that drug is administered. A lot of the coalitions [and] a lot of the employers are working hard to get this to happen, and we really thought it would have worked through long before now.

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