Who We Are
The Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines is an organization of patients, physicians, pharmacists, biotechnology companies that develop innovative and biosimilar medicines and others, who are working together to ensure that patient safety is at the forefront of the biosimilars policy discussion. It is the mission of the Alliance to serve as an authoritative resource center of information for the public, medical community, the FDA and other state and federal policymakers during the implementation of the biosimilars approval pathway and beyond.
Biologics are advanced prescription drugs to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other debilitating diseases. In November 2010 the Food and Drug Administration began consultation with patient groups, physicians and industry on how to approve the first copies of these drugs, known as follow-on biologics or biosimilars. As the FDA moves forward in implementing this pathway, the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines will work to ensure patient safety remains the priority.
|Madelaine Feldman Completes Term as ASBM Chair
On August 31st, ASBM Chair Madelaine Feldman, MD, FACR completed her term as ASBM Chair.
ASBM Executive Director Michael Reilly praised Dr. Feldman’s leadership:
Dr. Feldman led ASBM during a difficult time, keeping ASBM engaged on important biosimilar policy issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. As ASBM Chair, she was a tireless champion for patients- sharing physician perspectives at many biosimilar forums nationwide, expanding ASBM’s membership, and co-authoring three important whitepapers during her term.
Dr. Feldman will continue to remain involved with ASBM, joining the Advisory Board as Immediate Past Chair.
ASBM formally announced its new Chairman, gastroenterologist Ralph McKibbin, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF; to members on a Full Member Call September 9th.
|Gastrointestinal Society Surveys Alberta and BC Patients on Non-Medical Switching
The Canada-based Gastrointestinal Society has designed a brief survey to capture the biosimilar switching experience in Alberta and British Columbia, two Canadian provinces which have enacted forced biosimilar switching policies. In these provinces, the policy was changed to only provide public coverage for the biosimilar and no longer provides any coverage for the originator biologic.
The survey is open to residents of Alberta and British Columbia who were prescribed an originator biologic but were made to switch to a biosimilar based on government policy changes. Patient caregivers are also eligible. The survey covers these disease indications:
Eligible Alberta and British Columbia patients and caregivers are encouraged to complete the survey here.
ASBM Presents to Malta Medicines Authority
On August 26th, ASBM’s Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider gave a series of presentations at a Biosimilars Forum hosted by the Malta Medicines Authority in Valetta, Malta.
Dr. Schneider provided an extensive overview of multiple topics related to biosimilars, including:
Dr. Schneider is a frequent lecturer in Malta on the subject of biosimilars. He has served for several years as an external examiner for Doctorate in Pharmacy final students at the University of Malta, and in July 2018 participated in a biosimilars seminar sponsored by the University of Malta, the Malta Medicines Authority, and the Malta Pharmaceutical Association.
View Dr. Schneider’s biosimilar presentations here.
|ASBM Whitepaper Offers Critical Review of Canadian Substitution Policies
On August 22nd, the Generics and Biosimilars Initiative (GaBI Journal) published a new whitepaper by ASBM Executive Director Michael Reilly and Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider.
The paper is entitled “A Critical Review of Substitution Policy for Biosimilars in Canada” and highlights the stark contrast between the forced-substitution policies recently enacted by some Canadian provinces and the pro-competition policies which have proven successful in driving biosimilar uptake in Europe and the U.S. From the paper:
Successful biosimilar markets in the EU and US have demonstrated that forced medical switching is unnecessary to achieve high uptake of biosimilars and the associated savings…This fosters a robust and sustainable biosimilar market with multiple suppliers in any given product class.
Canada desires a robust biosimilar market share like that observed in Europe. While there may be short-term savings from non-medical switching, a long-term consequence of this policy may be decreased competition resulting from fewer products launches and a negative impact on patient safety. Potential drug shortage issues may develop in the absence of multiple suppliers of biologics in each product class. There would also be likely be an undermining the confidence of both physicians and patients in biosimilars that creates an additional barrier to biosimilar uptake.
The successful uptake of biosimilars in Europe was accomplished by limiting the choice of biologic or forced non-medical switching, but through preserving choice for physicians and patients and by promoting competition among all products approved by regulatory authorities. To foster its success in creating a sustainable biosimilars market, Canadian payers can learn from the lessons learned in more mature markets and implement evidence-based transition policies that consider patients’ needs primary.
The paper will also appear in Issue 3 of the GaBI Journal’s print edition this fall.
|FDA Approves First Interchangable Biosimilar Insulin
On July 28th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the long-awaited approved of the first interchangeable biosimilar, Mylan’s SemgleeⓇ. Under the Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) of 2009, which governs U.S. biosimilar development, an interchangeable biosimilar may be substituted in place of its reference product (in this case, Sanofi’s insulin glargine LantusⓇ) at the pharmacy without the need for prior physician authorization. The approval is a victory for patients and healthcare providers years in the making, according to the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM). As the FDA press release states:
An interchangeable biosimilar product may be substituted for the reference product without the intervention of the prescriber. The substitution may occur at the pharmacy, a practice commonly called “pharmacy-level substitution”—much like how generic drugs are substituted for brand name drugs, subject to state pharmacy laws, which vary by state. Biosimilar and interchangeable biosimilar products have the potential to reduce health care costs, similar to how generic drugs have reduced costs. Biosimilars marketed in the U.S. typically have launched with initial list prices 15% to 35% lower than comparative list prices of the reference products.
The FDA announcement comes on the heels of Oklahoma becoming the 50th and final state to permit substitution of interchangeable biosimilars this past April. As with similar laws nationwide, patients and the prescribing physician must be made aware of the substitution, and one may be prevented by the physician if deemed medically necessary.
“For eight years, patient advocacy organizations like ASBM worked with physician and pharmacist societies, manufacturers of both originator products and biosimilars, and state legislatures in fifty states to ensure that biosimilars could be safely substituted and patients nationwide could have access to lower-cost treatment options,” said ASBM’s executive director Michael Reilly.
ASBM’s efforts in this years-long campaign consisted of conducting three nationwide physician surveys, gathering dozens of patient testimonials, physician and pharmacist interviews, letters and legislator briefings, meetings with state medical and pharmacy societies, in-person expert testimony before state legislatures, educational videos, and holding educational forums at colleges of medicine and pharmacy.
Read more about the FDA’s approval here.
|ASBM Presents CE Course on the Biosimilar Market in 2021
On July 27th, ASBM Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider presented an online Continuing Education (CE) course entitled the “The State of the Biosimilars Market in 2021”. The course was presented in conjunction with Long Island University College of Pharmacy (LIU-Pharmacy) and viewed by more than 150 pharmacists.
The presentation looked at biosimilar market share in the US, Australia, Canada, and the countries of Western Europe and compared the different approaches these countries have used for driving uptake.
While some countries experimented with forced substitution of government-preferred products, those with the most successful biosimilars markets permitted physicians to retain control over prescribing decisions. These countries achieved savings through the increased competition of many products being freely available and reimbursed by payers.
Dr. Schneider also discussed patient and physician concerns with the non-medical switching of patients who are stable on their current therapies; and how the U.S. interchangeability standard addresses these concerns.
View Dr. Schneider’s presentation here.
|Dr. Schneider DIscusses Interchangeability and Substitution in Latest ASBM/LIU Biosimilars Course.
ASBM, in conjunction with the Long Island University College of Pharmacy (LIU-Pharmacy), is now offering a comprehensive continuing education course on biosimilars entitled “Biosimilars: What Pharmacists Need to Know”.
The course is presented by ASBM Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider and covers many topics including:
Upcoming entries will include discussions of the limitations of biologic pharmacovigilance systems; patient and physician perspectives on biosimilars, and a comparison of different countries’ approaches to driving biosimilar uptake.
While the course is accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE), meaning course credit is available to pharmacists nationwide, it is open to all.
Use the code BIOJUNE1 for free access to the first two courses.BIBIOOJUNE1
|ASBM Letter to Congress Urges Level Playing Field for All Biologics
On July 28th, ASBM sent a letter to Congressional leaders expressing our opposition to H.R.2815, the BIOSIM Act, a bill “to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for a temporary payment increase under the Medicare program for certain biosimilar biological products to encourage the development and use of such products.”
The bill proposes to artificially incentivize biosimilar uptake by increasing reimbursement for biosimilars in Medicare Part B to ASP plus 8%, up from the current ASP plus 6%. This troubling proposal is not new, and has wisely been rejected by the Senate several times. In 2019 alone, this policy was defeated in the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, The BIOSIM Act (H.R. 4455) and The Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3). From the letter:
We, the undersigned patient advocates and health care practitioners, have serious concerns with the potential negative impacts of this policy on patient care. It would create financial incentives for physicians to prescribe biosimilars; in effect, it would provide the doctor a 33% bonus for using a biosimilar instead of an originator product.
Treatment decisions can and should take into consideration a number of factors, including economic factors such as the affordability of the drug for the patient, but the physician-patient relationship could be seriously undermined when physicians are rewarded financially for choosing one medicine over another. Every patient should be confident that their physician will prescribe the product that is in their best interest, not the one that is the most profitable to the physician personally.
We share the goal of increasing biosimilar uptake and increasing patient access to biologic therapies. We also firmly believe this proposal is unnecessary, misguided, and potentially harmful.
Read the full letter here.
WHO 73rd INN Consultation
Geneva, Switzerland – October 19, 2021
World Drug Safety Congress
Boston, Massachusetts – October 20-21, 2021
World Biosimilar Congress Europe 2021
Basel, Switzerland – November 9-11, 2021