Most Polish Pharmacists Have Concerns About Biosimilars, Survey Finds

The Center for Biosimilars Staff

Biosimilars have been making substantial inroads in Europe, where their use is associated with increased patient access to treatment, particularly in nations with lower healthcare resources. Even so, biosimilars may be unfamiliar to stakeholders, and prescribers, pharmacists, and patients have lingering concerns about these products.

Biosimilars have been making substantial inroads in Europe, where their use is associated with increased patient access to treatment, particularly in nations with lower healthcare resources. Even so, biosimilars may be unfamiliar to stakeholders, and prescribers, pharmacists, and patients have lingering concerns about these products.

A recent survey was conducted among Polish pharmacists in general hospitals, and sought to assess attitudes toward and use of biosimilars in practice, and the results have been newly published in BioDrugs.1

The investigators distributed a paper-based, self-administered questionnaire to Polish hospital pharmacists and found that 77% of surveyed hospitals used biosimilars, while 90% used originator biologics.

The survey found that biosimilars comprise less than one-third of all biological therapy used in Polish hospitals, and 88% of surveyed pharmacists say that they are concerned that biosimilars are not identical to their reference products. Similarly, 48% of respondents are concerned about potential immunogenicity of biosimilars, and 44% have concerns about pharmacokinetic properties of these drugs.

The study’s authors conclude that, given the many concerns that stakeholders still have about biosimilar products, introducing these therapies into patient care requires special consideration. The authors call for improved legal regulation for biosimilars to help stakeholders feel more comfortable with understanding when and how biosimilars can be substituted for their reference products (Poland does not allow for unrestricted pharmacy-level substitution of biosimilars), improved communication between prescribers and pharmacists, and educational efforts to help improve the safe and effective use of biosimilars.

Improved use of biosimilars could have a positive impact on the Polish health system, which, like many healthcare systems in Eastern Europe, faces challenges related to its financial constraints. Last year, a paper published in Biomed Research International reported that, in Eastern Europe, numerous barriers stand between patients and biologic therapy. Among those barriers are volume limits on the number of patients who can be treated with biologics under public reimbursement, waiting lists for treatment (even in oncology indications), limited-duration biologic treatment, nonreimbursement of complementary diagnostics, and restricted reimbursement.2

References

1. Pawłowski I, Pawłowski L, Krzyżaniak N, Kocić I. Perspectives of hospital pharmacists towards biosimilar medicines: practice in general hospitals [published online March 4, 2019]. BioDrugs. doi: 10.1007/s40259-019-00341-w.

2. Inotai A, Csandi M, Petrova G, et al. Patient access, unmet medical need, expected benefits, and concerns related to the utilisation of biosimilars in Eastern European countries: a survey of experts [published online January 10, 2018]. Biomed Res Int. doi: 10.1155/2018/9597362.