Survey: Canadian Physicians Support Distinguishable Names for Biologics, Biosimilars

November 23, 2017
The Center for Biosimilars Staff

Results of a new national survey conducted by the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) shows that Canadian physicians support the use of distinguishable names for biologic therapies, including biosimilars,

Results of a new national survey conducted by the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) show that Canadian physicians support the use of distinguishable names for biologic therapies, including biosimilars, and that these physicians are open to using biosimilars for non-medical reasons so long as they retain control over the decision to switch a patient’s treatment.

The results of the survey were recently presented at the Drug Information Association Annual Canadian meeting in Ottawa by ASBM's past chairman, Harry Gewanter, MD.

"Distinguishable non-proprietary naming for all biologic medicines is important for the appropriate use of originator biologics and biosimilars, as well as pharmacovigilance," said Gewanter in a statement. "Further, Canadian physicians believe it is critical that the physician-patient relationship remains central when deciding which treatments their patients will utilize."

The survey found the following:

  • 68% of physicians support Health Canada’s implementation of distinguishable names for biologics, though debate continues over how best to name these products.
  • 54% believe that a biosimilar that shares an international nonproprietary name with its reference product implies that the 2 molecules are identical, which is counter to the principle of biosimilarity.
  • 63% believe that a biosimilar that shares an international nonproprietary name with its reference product implies that the 2 therapies are approved for the same indications, which may or may not be the case, depending upon the drug.

"The results of our survey provide important insight and evidence to regulators and policymakers on the perspectives of Canadian prescribers of biologic medicines," said Michael Reilly, executive director of ASBM. "For originator biologics and biosimilars to be used successfully, decision makers should rely on the input and opinions of those who prescribe them, working collaboratively to develop policies that minimize potential safety or efficacy issues."