ASBM held a series of meetings in February with Australian regulators and policy makers, as well as pharmacy, physician and patient organizations. ASBM Executive Director Michael Reilly was joined by International Advisory Board member Stephen Murby, who is also the former head of the Consumers Health Forum.

The primary purpose of these meetings was to share the results of ASBM’s survey of 160 Australian prescribers of biologics on issues including how biosimilars are named, prescribed and monitored, in the hope that these data may be helpful to policymakers as biosimilars become more widely used in Australia.

Australia has been a leader in recognizing the need for distinct naming of biosimilars, and its adoption of a distinct naming system was influential in the development of the World Health Organization’s Biological Qualifier (BQ) proposal, which would extend the protections of distinct biologic naming to patients globally. The Australian survey revealed that 76% of Australian prescribers support the TGA issuing distinct names for all biologics, including biosimilars.

In recent years, Australia has begun allowing the ‘a-flagging’ or pharmacy-level substitution of some biosimilars. The survey revealed that 90% of Australian prescribers consider it “very important” or “critical” that they and their patients determine which biologic medicine to use.

Similarly, 89% considered it “very important” or “critical” that they be notified in the event a patient receives a medicine at the pharmacy other than what they had been prescribed.

The full survey results may be read here.

Meetings included:

Members of Parliament:
Office of Minister Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare
Dr. David Gillespie MP – Assistant Minister for Health
Office of Minister Greg Hunt – Minster for Health

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
Australian Department of Health

Patient Groups:
Arthritis Australia
Consumer Health Forum
Crohn’s and Colitis Australia

Physician Groups:
Australian Rheumatology Association
Australian Diabetes Society
Gastroenterology Society of Australia

Pharmacy Guild of Australia

Other Stakeholders:
Medicines Australia
NPS Medicinewise