In IQVIA’s latest report, neurologists in Europe reported feeling positive about the biosimilars for multiple sclerosis (MS) coming down the pipeline, showing that industry-wide education efforts and experience with biosimilars are working to instill greater confidence in these products.
In IQVIA’s latest report, neurologists in Europe reported being well aware of the biosimilar pipeline for multiple sclerosis (MS), feel positive about biosimilars generally, and are planning to use them to expand treatment access for their patients during the first year of availability.
The report, entitled “Unlocking Biosimilar Potential: Learnings From Physicians Across Therapy Areas,” aimed to understand physician experiences with using biosimilars and their perspectives on other physicians that will be using them for the first time in the near future, such as neurologists. The report consisted of results from several physician-targeted surveys.
Biosimilars have already contributed to over €30 million in savings across Europe. However, the use of biosimilars and uptake rates vary from country to country. Over the next 5 years, 30 more biologic molecules are expected to lose exclusivity than the past 5 years. In the neurologist space, the first biosimilar referencing Tysabri (natalizumab), a drug used to treat MS and Crohn disease, is expected to enter the European market in 2023.
“These physicians can benefit from the experiences of oncologists and immunologists that have used biosimilars for multiple years. Assessing what drove physicians to adopt biosimilars, sharing best practices around use in different situations, and identifying the most appropriate approaches to sharing information will be helpful in optimizing biosimilar use. The experiences of physicians that have utilized biosimilars will also allow health systems to anticipate issues that may arise in relation to new biosimilars and ensure the development of a sustainable competitive market,” IQVIA explained.
Overall, physician perceptions on biosimilars have improved over time as providers gain experience with using biosimilars, with 63% of physicians reporting that their perceptions have evolved and 83% saying they have a positive or very positive opinion of biosimilars. Over 60% of oncologists and immunologists said that they start over 50% of their new patients on biosimilars.
More than half of neurologists reports being moderately or very informed about biosimilars generally and their use in other specialty areas, and 70% reported having a positive or very positive perception of them irrespective of whether they have had direct experience using them. Neurologists said they expect to use biosimilars when they become available, with 48% saying they expect to utilize them for over 50% of their patients, primarily because of the potential cost savings and increased accessibility to treatments.
Further, most neurologists stated that learning best practices for using biosimilars from providers in other specialties from physician associations and other countries would be beneficial for them as they prepare for biosimilar options for MS.
One concern about using biosimilars regarded administration methods as some biosimilars coming down the pipeline may not have both intravenous and subcutaneous administration options. Many expressed that they would switch patients using the subcutaneous version of the reference product to an intravenous biosimilar because of the cost benefits the biosimilar would provide. However, the process will likely be “difficult albeit manageable.”
Additionally, neurologists felt that patient preference will greatly influence their prescribing habits. The authors noted, “Striking a balance between the [health care practitioner] preference, patient preference, healthcare infrastructure challenges, and potential loss of savings will be critical.”
The main generic and biosimilar drugs for MS expected to launch over the next 5 years are estimated to generate between €4.5 billion to €5.5 billion in savings between 2023 and 2028 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
“Achieving these savings will be important for freeing up resources to fund innovative treatments while also enhancing the access of key biologic molecules to patients, especially given the costs associated with COVID prevention. If learnings from the experience of physicians are not utilized to optimize the use of biosimilars and the sustainability of the market, this would result in a missed opportunity to achieve these savings,” the authors wrote.