Rick Lozano: Patient Programs, Provider Education Pose Opportunities for Biosimilars

Kelly Davio

While 2017 was a busy year for biosimilar approvals by the FDA, Rick Lozano, vice president of biosimilars and integrated business development at AmerisourceBergen, feels that the biggest developments in biosimilars were those being made outside the regulatory or clinical spheres. In an interview with The Center for Biosimilars®, Lozano said that “There are distractions and defense strategies in the market that continue to be slowing the pace” of bringing biosimilars to the market.

While 2017 was a busy year for biosimilar approvals by the FDA, Rick Lozano, vice president of biosimilars and integrated business development at AmerisourceBergen, feels that the biggest developments in biosimilars were those being made outside the regulatory or clinical spheres. In an interview with The Center for Biosimilars®, Lozano said that “There are distractions and defense strategies in the market that continue to be slowing the pace” of bringing biosimilars to the market.

Lozano reported that, in his work at AmerisourceBergen, he does not see biosimilars as fitting under a typical brand-name drug platform or under a generic drug platform; instead, he is focused on developing a unique approach to these products to help them thrive in the marketplace. Among Lozano’s initiatives is helping biosimilar developers to overcome market delays through commercialization strategies, especially with respect to aligned patient services and hub services that are either similar to or “above and beyond” what the innovator offers.

“The challenge of patient service, when we saw the first few entrances into the market, is making sure you have copay assistance in place, making sure the flow of patient services goes through the provider, and having the correct hub to support that in the background," he said.

Pure-play biosimilar developers, said Lozano, may not be deeply familiar with the patient programs that the reference product sponsor has in place, and may need help with research that will allow them to implement programs, educate patients, and provide nursing support.

Patients aren’t the only stakeholders who are seeking support. According to Lozano, providers are increasingly looking to industry to provide education about biosimilar therapies. Given how critical it is to build providers’ confidence in biosimilars, “We take it upon ourselves to work with manufactures to get the support services to educate providers so they can educate their patients,” said Lozano. Through its ION Solutions program, AmerisourceBergen conducts outreach to community oncologists not only to educate them on the safety and efficacy of biosimilars, but also to reassure them that payers have the right plans in place to support biosimilars, and that these therapies will remain in the market for the long term.

Looking ahead to 2018, Lozano hopes to see alignment across stakeholder groups—from policy makers and payers to manufacturers and wholesalers—in making the marketplace for biosimilars sustainable.

“2018 needs to be a year where stakeholders align to where there’s access to these products,” said Lozano, “and policies allow [biosimilars] to be on commercial plans—allow them to have a competitive market.”