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Dr Lakesha Farmer Highlights Current Biosimilar Education, Acceptance Efforts


Cencora's Lakesha Farmer, PharmD, MBA, discusses efforts that health care organizations can take to better educate patients and providers on biosimilars to improve biosimilar acceptance and achieve cost savings associated with these products.

Lakesha Farmer, PharmD, MBA, senior director, strategic accounts, ION Oncology Practice Network at Cencora, outlined educational resources on biosimilars that are already available to patients as well as how her organization ensures that patients are aware of biosimilars and are comfortable with switching products.


Could you share insights into patient and provider education efforts regarding biosimilars, and how these efforts have evolved to address misconceptions or concerns?

So as we know, education is one of the most important factors in the acceptance and adoption of biosimilars for both providers and patients. When I was in practice as a pharmacy administrator, the largest misconception I faced was that biosimilar studies were inferior to their reference products' because they utilized extrapolation studies to gain approval for all indications. In my role as the director of pharmacy and co-chair of the P&T [pharmacy and therapeutics] committee, I was responsible for educating my providers and nursing staff on how extrapolated indications were granted by regulatory bodies and how critical quality and analytical attributes were used to establish scientific justifications for biosimilarity and FDA approval.

Also, while I was in that role, I worked closely with our physician leaders and nursing administrators to create consent forms for patients who were being switched from a reference product to a biosimilar. We made sure that thorough education was provided to all patients to ensure that they were all well aware of what a biosimilar agent was and to set the expectation that they would still receive the same level of high quality care with their new agent.

Outside of resources being created internally at the practice level, there have been several educational resources created for patients and providers by external organizations like manufacturers, distributors, medical professional organizations, as well as the FDA.

Now that I'm out of clinical practice and have the opportunity to sit on the other side of the table as a distributor and GPO [group purchasing organization] partner, my organization, Cencora, has also contributed to making sure our patients and providers are well educated by creating several educational resources for our downstream and upstream customers that can be found in our biosimilar information hub.

From a patient-centered perspective, what are some of the most important considerations when promoting awareness and acceptance of biosimilars as viable treatment options?

So as we all know, patients are at the heart of what we do. So more patient-centered approaches to improving patient care and increasing cost savings directly to the patient is going to be paramount. You would think that because biosimilars are provided at a much lower cost to providers that the cost to patients would also be much lower. Well, unfortunately, that's not always the case.

Although biosimilar competition decreases the cost of the health care system, this does not always translate to lower out-of-pocket costs, especially for commercially-insured patients.

Therefore, this highlights the need for more patient-centric and targeted policy interventions to ensure that the savings generated from biosimilar competition translate into increased affordability directly to the patients who need affordable biologic agents for the treatment of their chronic and sometimes, unfortunately, life-threatening conditions.

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