Six Months Makes a Difference: Physicians' Attitudes About Biosimilars

A notably larger percentage of US physicians say they intend to prescribe biosimilars in the coming three years.

A notably larger percentage of US physicians say they intend to prescribe biosimilars in the coming three years. However, fewer would allow pharmacy-level substation of these drugs for their patients than just six months ago, and they are weighting more factors into their choice of potentially prescribing biosimilars at all, as reported by InCrowd, a provider of real-time market intelligence to the life sciences and healthcare firms.

The new data comes from a new biosimilars prescribing intentions report showing that 84% of physicians across five subspecialties in which biologics prescribing is significant -- dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, oncology and rheumatology -- surveyed in September 2016 said they expect to prescribe, assume they will prescribe, or look forward to prescribing more biosimilars in the next 3 years -- up from 70% in February 2016. The figure reflects a decrease in those physicians who would only prescribe biosimilars if they were forced to do so, or there were specific patient conditions that warranted a move away from the originating biologic -- from 26% in February to 16% in September.

However only 17% of total physicians surveyed in September said they would not prohibit biosimilars substitutions on their prescriptions for the originator biologic, down from 28% in February. Verbatims echoed their increased caution. "At this time I would not be amenable to switching a patient from a stable medication without significant data to prove complete compatibility," said one rheumatologist. "I would wait and let other doctors experiment on their patients," said an oncologist."

In addition, among the top 10 most important factors in deciding to prescribe a biosimilar, physicians now are placing greater emphasis on thought leader opinions and professional organization guidelines -- now at 55%, from 46% in February -- as well as patient acceptance of biosimilars, up to 49% from 40%.

"Data reflect that during this time when biosimilars are of strong interest to insurers and health care systems for cost control, physicians are not rushing to issue a blank check for their substitution, and are keenly aware of their need to thoughtfully consider any such use," said Diane Hayes, president and co-founder of InCrowd.

The September survey on US physician prescribing intentions with biosimilars also showed:

Given the choice, roughly the same percentage of physicians - 35% in September compared with 36% in February -- plan to prescribe original biologics first and foremost.

The majority of physicians are still looking for discounted pricing if they're going to prescribe biosimilars -- 59% would prescribe a biosimilar over the originator at 15% discount, 77% at 25% discount -- figures that remained roughly the same in the past six months. Source: InCrowd