Sonia T. Oskouei, PharmD, BCMAS, DPLA, the vice president of Biosimilars at Cardinal Health, discussed the many ways that pharmacists and interchangeability designations can affect biosimilar utilization.
In an interview with AJMC.com, the website of The American Journal of Managed Care®, and the sister site of The Center for Biosimilars®, Sonia T. Oskouei, PharmD, BCMAS, DPLA, vice president of Biosimilars at Cardinal Health, discussed the role that pharmacists can play in promoting biosimilar uptake and the first interchangeable biosimilar.
Oskouei said that pharmacists can aid biosimilar uptake by leading education efforts for providers and other members of the health care team. Pharmacists are also able to monitor the pipeline of anticipated biosimilars to help providers prepare and they have the added bonus of having a comprehensive understanding of the managed care landscape, which can help pharmacists identify viable opportunities or biosimilar utilization.
She delved into the potential for interchangeable biosimilars and the meaning behind interchangeability designations. Oskouei predicted correctly that the United States would see its first interchangeable biosimilar, which was approved in July 2021 (Semglee; insulin aspart). She said that the most important aspect of interchangeability designations is that they are relevant primarily for biosimilars that are dispensed in retail pharmacy or specialty pharmacy settings.
Oskouei also talked about how the full implications of interchangeable biosimilars is unknown, especially for insulin products, where there is strong pricing debates and a really high demand for affordable diabetes medications for US patients. She mentioned that the designation could serve as an extra stamp of approval to alleviate potential clinical concerns among providers and patients.
In regard to how providers and pharmacists approach biosimilars differently, Oskouei discussed how pharmacists face challenges with conducting payer coverage assessments and inventory management implications stemming from varying payer policies in addition to the clinical concerns providers face.
Oskouei mentioned therapeutic interchanges as a mechanism to give pharmacists more power over biosimilar exchanges, saying that they allow for pharmacists to authorize exchanges of therapeutic alternatives in accordance with approved policies or protocols within a formulary system without requiring an interchangeable designation or provider permission.