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Sheila Frame: Biosimilars and Patient Access


Sheila Frame, vice president and head of biopharmaceuticals, North America, at Sandoz, discusses how biosimilars can increase patient access to treatment.


So in terms of access, I think we have great data now from Europe to show the number of additional patients who get treated. I think people will say to you, hey, Americans, generally speaking, have pretty good access compared to another country where it might be a single-payer system where they rely much more heavily on supply constraints, in the United States typically we don’t have supply constraints, because it's a copay, right?

So the patient doesn't know exactly what the cost of the medication is or what their coverage is or whatever. They just have a copay. I think though, increasingly, as we get more and more transparency in the system and you've heard now some of our big insurers and big pharmacy benefit managers are now actually saying, hey, we're actually willing to share the savings with patients directly, with providers who are infusing these products.

I think that there's a question mark in the United States as to how much more access we'll get, but I do believe, with the number of people who may not have great coverage, that they will now potentially be able to access these products. And I think that's exciting. I really do. I think it'll benefit society.

You know, when I think about rheumatoid arthritis, how many people do you see today who have been crippled by rheumatoid arthritis? Not so many, right? Because of biologics and the value they bring. And I think we probably all can imagine, whether it's a grandmother or a great aunt or whatever who had serious debilitating [disease], lived with pain, all of that kind of thing. The earlier you treat with biologics, then the less and less we've seen from that. So they're incredible innovations, and you don't want anybody to have to go through that if they don't have to.

So I think that's the opportunity from an access perspective. Now, we have great evidence in Europe where there's lots of people who otherwise wouldn't have had access, were treated for years on less expensive medications who then were able to get to biologics because of biosimilars. I think we all have that hope for the United States as well.

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