On November 22nd and 29th, ASBM Executive Director Michael Reilly and Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider presented to the Saudi Gastroenterology Association. The 45-minute presentation was livestreamed to gatherings of several hundred gastroenterologists in the three largest cities in Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. Entitled “Lessons from European Biosimilar Markets”, the presentation was based on the whitepaper “Policy recommendations for a sustainable biosimilars market: lessons from Europe” published February 2020 in the GaBI Journal and coauthored by Reilly and Schneider.

The paper examined biosimilar substitution policies across Europe, looking for commonalities which led to successful and sustainable biosimilar markets. The analysis identified six principles the authors refer to as the “Gold Standard”:

ASBM Executive Director Michael Reilly discusses the six principles which have created a sustainable biosimilar market in Europe.



  • Policies should be designed to incentivize and reward innovation in all types of biologicals.
  • Healthcare financing must take into account societal benefits derived from biological medicines, as well as the unique characteristics of biologicals.
  • Procurement practices must provide for multiple suppliers and a minimum term of 12 months.
  • Physicians must have autonomy to choose the most appropriate medicine for their patient, including making decisions on switching, which must also be consented to by the patient; no automatic substitution.
  • Mandatory brand-name prescribing to avoid unintended switches and a robust pharmacovigilance system to report adverse drug reactions (ADRs).
  • Policies with potential to undermine sustainability, such as measures which induce biosimilar uptake or promote preferential treatment, thereby limiting physician choice, should be avoided.
ASBM Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider explains common features of biosimilar markets across Europe which have contributed to their success.
ASBM Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider explains common features of biosimilar markets across Europe which have contributed to their success.

The paper also identified three “Must-Haves” for a sustainable biosimilar market:

  • Physicians should have the freedom to choose between off-patent originator biologicals and available biosimilars and to act in the best interest of their patients based on scientific evidence and clinical experience.
  • Tenders should be designed to include multiple value-based criteria beyond price, e.g. education, services, available dose strengths, and provide a sufficient broad choice (multi-winner tenders versus single-winner tenders) to ensure continuity of supply and healthy competition.
  • A level playing field between all participating manufacturers is the best way to foster competition; mandatory discounts which place artificial downward pressure on manufacturers do not engender a sustainable market environment.

Read the whitepaper here.