Health care systems need to consistently reevaluate whether the biosimilars they utilize are the most cost-effective, Neal Dave, PharmD, the executive director of pharmacy at Texas Oncology, explains.
In this interview with The Center for Biosimilars®, Neal Dave, PharmD, the executive director of pharmacy at Texas Oncology, discusses some of the issues that clinics face when prescribing biosimilars, including pricing, payer policy, and inventory challenges.
Dave says switching to biosimilars helped Texas Oncology reduce save 20% on a small group of drugs for which biosimilars were available. He mentions a pilot program at Texas Oncology where they used biosimilars for 3 drugs for 3 months. Across the board, the health system was able to save $4 million monthly.
Asked about the incentives for manufacturers to develop more oncology biosimilars amid increasing competition, Dave says that companies may have to find another way to compete rather than developing a new biosimilar for a reference product with 3 or more competitors.
However, he argues that pricing a product significantly lower in a market that already has a lot of competition is the best way to compete in such a market.
Clinics are challenged when they have to stock multiple biosimilars for the same reference product, and payers’ preferences do not always align with the clinic’s interests, he says. Although giving a patient the wrong biosimilar should not produce any clinical differences, on an administrative level, it can cause billing issues and result in additional costs for the practice. Dave says that, to help prevent these issues from occurring, clinics should be the ones to determine which biosimilars to use.
Dave reevaluates his pharmacy practices regularly because drug prices and biosimilar utilization change on a quarterly basis. These reevaluations will occur during pharmacy and therapeutics committee meetings, and those discussions are needed to figure out what can be done to improve biosimilar utilization, and consequently, cost savings.
Finally, Dave discusses the importance of clinics regularly reevaluating the prices of the biosimilars they’re using, because a biosimilar that enters the market as the most cost-efficient option may not stay that way forever. He stresses that clinics need to ensure that as prices change that they are continuing the use the most cost-effective option to prevent increasing the cost of care.