Ottawa, ON – Today, the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) released results from a survey that found that Canadian physicians overwhelmingly support Health Canada implementation of distinguishable names. Survey results also found that Canadian physicians are open to substituting biosimilars for non-medical reasons, only when they are the ultimate decision-maker for their patient, not a third-party. Results were released by ASBM’s immediate past chairman, Harry Gewanter, M.D. at the Drug Information Association (DIA) Annual Canadian meeting in Ottawa.
“Our survey results show that physician familiarity of biologics and biosimilars is growing in Canada,” Gewanter stated. “However, there are still a number of educational and public health activities concerning biologics and biosimilars that could further increase physician, and therefore public, confidence in using these life-enhancing medicines,” continued Gewanter during his presentation.
The 2017 ASBM Canadian physician survey is a follow-up to a previous survey conducted in 2014 and includes 403 physicians across 13 major therapeutic specialties — all of whom prescribe biologics. ASBM’s first Canadian survey was commissioned by ASBM in 2014 to provide empirical data to Health Canada, provincial policymakers, and other health regulators.
Survey results show that Canadian physician’s knowledge of biosimilars has improved significantly over the last three years, with a nearly-threefold increase in respondents stating they were “very familiar” with biosimilars (10% in 2014 increasing to 28% in 2017). On the clinical implications of public policy issues concerning biologics and biosimilars, survey results showed:
On the naming of biologics and biosimilars:
- 68% of physicians overwhelmingly support Health Canada implementing distinguishable names, yet there was no consensus as to best method.
- 50% considered a completely different nonproprietary name the best method of differentiating a biosimilar from its reference product, while 31% preferred a differentiating prefix, 11% a differentiating suffix, and 7% a shared INN with a manufacturer code;
- 54% believe biosimilar which shares an INN with its reference product implies the two are structurally identical, which is not the case; and
- 63% believe a biosimilar which shares an INN with its reference product implies the two were approved for the same indications, which may or may not be the case.
On pharmacy substitution of biosimilar in place of a prescribed biologic:
- 83% considered it “very important” or “critical” that the prescribing physician decide the most suitable biologic for their patients;
- 79% considered it “very important” or “critical” to have the authority to designate on a prescription for a biologic medicine “Dispense as Written” or “Do Not Substitute”;
- 78% considered it “very important” or “critical” to be notified in the event a biosimilar is substituted at the pharmacy; and
- 82% of physicians support switching studies before a third party may automatically substitute biosimilars.
“Distinguishable non-proprietary naming for all biologic medicines is critical for appropriate biologic and biosimilar medication use and pharmacovigilance. Further, Canadian physicians believe it critical that the physician-patient relationship remain central when deciding which treatments their patients will utilize,” stated Gewanter. “I believe Canada is well on its way to implementing policies that will achieve the goals of enhancing access to and increasing the use of these life-changing therapies while also protecting the safety of patients.”
For nearly seven years, ASBM has commissioned physician surveys to gather the perspectives of biologic prescribers worldwide. The full results of the 2017 Canadian survey, as well as ASBM’s other surveys, may be viewed at: www.SafeBiologics.org/surveys.
About the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines:
The Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) is an organization composed of diverse healthcare groups and individuals from patients to physicians, innovative medical biotechnology companies, and others who are working together to ensure patient safety is at the forefront of the biosimilars policy discussion. Visit us at www.SafeBiologics.org.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Reilly, Executive Director
Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines