The National Health Service’s (NHS) Specialist Pharmacy Service released resources for clinicians to use with patients in the discussions around switching from the reference Humira to a biosimilar.
As the United Kingdom prepares for the arrival of biosimilar adalimumab next month, government agencies are also preparing to answer many patient and physician questions about potential changes to patients’ treatment.
Last week, the National Health Service’s (NHS) Specialist Pharmacy Service released resources for clinicians to use with patients in the discussions around switching from the reference Humira to a biosimilar. The resources include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, as well as a template of patient letter with information about what the switch might mean for them.
The FAQ document includes background information about biologics and biosimilars, answering questions such as “What is a biosimilar?” and “Are biosimilars safe?” It also includes the reasoning behind why NHS will be instituting the switch, stating that, “Biosimilar medicines represent very good value for the NHS since they are often much less costly than the originator medicine. The NHS is asking clinical teams, in discussion with individual patients, to use more biosimilar medicines so that the money saved can be reinvested in new medicines and treatments.”
Furthermore, the document describes the type of patient best suited to a biosimilar, namely, most patients who are currently receiving an originator biologic, even if they have just started to take that medication. However, NHS does note numerous times throughout the text that if a patient has any questions or concerns about his or her eligibility to receive the biosimilar, these should be addressed with their individual clinical team.
Finally, the documents answer questions about how the biosimilar will be administered and address any differences in the administration from that of the reference product.
This is just the latest in a string of resources centered around educating patients about biosimilars that have been released. Earlier this month, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) published new patient-focused educational materials that look to increase patient awareness about biosimilars and assure the safety and efficacy of the products to their reference biologics.
Concurrently with the release of the new materials, the EMA also released new translations of its existing biosimilar guide for healthcare providers in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.