Segment Description: Amanda Forys, MSPH, and Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH, discuss oncology patients’ awareness of biosimilars and willingness to try these therapies.
Amanda Forys, MSPH: Hello, and thank you for joining The Center for Biosimilars® Peer Exchange® Titled “Bringing Oncology Biosimilars to Patients.” I am Amanda Forys, senior director of reimbursement policy insights at Xcenda. With me today is Christy M. Gamble, director of health policy and legislative affairs at Black Women’s Health Imperative. Thank you so much for joining us, let’s begin.
Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH: Thank you for having me.
Amanda Forys, MSPH: First we’re going to go ahead and talk a little bit about the biosimilars market for cancer patients. I know we’ve just now recently this year seen 2 FDA approvals for anti-cancer biosimilars: Mvasi, which is a bevacizumab biosimilar, and Ogivri, which is a trastuzumab biosimilar.
We’re seeing payers starting to look at biosimilars and putting them on formularies, maybe not at the rate we were expecting to see for the rheumatoid arthritis products that have come to market, but we might see that pick up a little bit in the next couple months as more and more products are getting approval.
Can you talk a little bit about the patient population that would be using these products in oncology? Do they know what biosimilars are? Are they comfortable with them yet? What do you think about that?
Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH: That’s a great question. It really depends on, like you said, the patient population. In oncology, the patients are more familiar with biosimilars; it’s a familiar concept for them. The providers are more aware, and they’re informing their patients of different biologics and biosimilars on the market. So, when it comes to biosimilars for oncology patients, they’re more willing to take their providers' advice on the different biosimilars that will be most effective in treating their condition.
But when it comes to other disease populations, they’re not as familiar with biosimilars. That’s the group that we’re trying to get to become more familiar. We’re trying to get their providers more familiar with biosimilars and the benefits of them.
Amanda Forys, MSPH: How does it work with the concept of brand loyalty?
Let’s say you have a patient either just being recently diagnosed with something who knows of a brand that they’ve seen a commercial for, or a patient who is continuing a therapy that they’ve been on that may have a change to formulary now in favor of a biosimilar.
How do you handle that as a provider, or as a community, to help people understand that they can switch over to these products, and that they’ve been deemed safe by the FDA?
Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH: We’ve come to find out that patients really seek the advice of their providers. They’re more likely to believe and trust their provider when their provider has told them that a particular drug or therapy has been very successful in treating their condition. They’re more willing to switch over to something that is effective at treating their condition.
So, we’re not really seeing most patients say “No, I’m loyal to this particular brand.” Particularly for oncology patients: they want something that works and they want to get treated and they want an effective drug and therapy, so they’re willing to switch at the advice of their provider. We’re not really seeing that brand loyalty.
Amanda Forys, MSPH: Yeah, I always hear “Is it safe, is it effective, is it going to make me better?” That’s what a patient wants to know and they’re really leaning on those practices.
Christy M. Gamble, JD, DrPH, MPH: Yes, absolutely.