Opportunities Provided By Biosimilars


Maia Kayal, MD, MS, and Kimberly C. Chen DO, MSHLM, discuss opportunities that biosimilars provide for inflammatory conditions from both a payer and provider perspective.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Now let's discuss the role of biologics and biosimilars and disease management. What are the practical considerations for drug selection? Maybe Dr Kayal, we can start with you. And then Dr Chen, I'll probably want to pull you into this conversation as well. But first, Dr Kayal, what are some of the opportunities that biosimilars have for inflammatory conditions from a provider's perspective?

Maia Kayal, MD, MS: Biosimilars are really an exciting addition in terms of the adalimumab biosimilars this year, at least in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases because the number one most important thing that they're allowing us to do is get more drugs into more patients hands; the fact that they are lower costs, and hopefully we're seeing that lower costs translate into patient lower costs as well. It's just making the treatment class the biologics more accessible for patients. And this is a big deal because although we have a lot of different health care plans and different insurance, formularies, and managed care plans, it still is across the board, it can be difficult to get the right drug into the right patient at the right time. The cost has always been a barrier for patients so the biggest thing that has been really wonderful about biosimilars, and this started of course, with infliximab, biosimilars, years ago, and now again more recently with the adalimumab biosimilars, is that we're able to get the drug to the patient at the time that they need. So we were talking a little bit about step therapy before and we're increasingly understanding this step therapy is not necessarily the right approach for many of our patients who are starting with severe disease that can only progress or increase in severity. And for these patients, you really need to start a biologic early on and you don't necessarily want to waste time going through the different step-up or step-lateral approach. You really just want to start the biologic upfront, and the cost was a big inhibitor of that, and now with the biosimilars at the lower cost they afford, we're able to start the right drug earlier for our patients and really prevent the disease severity progressing.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Many times historically, it was given to the providers to understand the value of a biosimilar but obviously, our providers have really caught on. And they understand the value that plays in treatment. And they understand that it can reduce the cost for the patient if the plan has it that way. So maybe we pivot from the provider perspective to a payer. As a payer, Dr Chen, what are your thoughts on biosimilars? And how are they really changing the landscape and some of these high costs disease states?

Kimberly C. Chen DO, MSHLM: As we have discussed earlier, the development of biosimilar drugs is much lower in cost in comparison to biologics, as well as the medication itself. It is much lower overall, in the cost itself, but also, ideally, it is used interchangeably where we are able to switch somebody already on a biologic to the biosimilar, which, could give us even more saving in the long run.It will increase our market competitiveness and overall create more innovations as well as, hopefully, cost saving in the long run.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: I’m hopeful that cost savings not only save for the employer group because I think that’s so important as they continue to cover newer innovative treatments, but for the payers also. Hopefully, that passes on to the patients as well because ultimately, we want them to be able to afford and have access to these medications.

Transcript edited for clarity.

This activity is supported by an educational grant from Boehringer Ingelheim.

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