Keeping up with everything going on in the healthcare industry is no easy feat, so it’s not extraordinary to wake up and realize that there’s a new medical trend that took the world by storm overnight. Despite the fact that it seems like these trends pop up out of no where, most have been in the making for years, or even decades!
One trend that has been buzzing around the past decade is the use of biosimilar medications. This form of medication has caused controversy in the medical field, but it (finally) looks like some very important healthcare opinion leaders have made up their mind on the topic.
What are biosimilar medications?
To understand biosimilars, it’s necessary that you understand biological products. Biological products are made from living organisms, such as bacteria or yeast. In turn, biosimilar medications are biopharmaceutical drugs whose properties are similar to one that has previously been licensed by a different company. Many people have lumped biosimilar medications into the category of being generic, but this isn’t so. Generic drugs have the same properties, while biosimilar drugs are just that – similar.
These drugs are less expensive than traditional biologics, and are prescribed to people suffering from disorders like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and even anemia. Biosimilars don’t sound too bad, right? So, where is the controversy within this situation?
What’s the issue with biosimilar drugs?
While there is a slew of controversy behind biosimilar drugs, the primary points of dispute lie within these ideas:
- Legality – The fact that you’re essentially ripping off someone’s patented drug has caused a lot of legal problems in big pharma.
- Cost – Biosimilars are typically less expensive for patients, but a lot of research shows that the discount won’t be as high as originally expected (about 10 percent). Still, this could help save billions of dollars in health care costs nationally.
- Safety – Is there enough evidence proving the safety of biosimilars? If a patient is currently taking a biologic, is it safe to switch them to a biosimilar?
- Efficacy – Do biosimilars really work as well as biologics? If the drug’s properties aren’t exactly the same, is it still doing its job?
Considering all of this, the opinion most patients are going to want to hear is that of their physicians, and their views on this topic might surprise you!
Why Doctors are Backing Biosimilar Drugs
In a recent study, InCrowd discovered that about 50 percent of physicians in the United States are standing up for biosimilar medications for various reasons. Here are the rest of their results:
As you can see, the highest ranking factors for prescribing include safety, efficacy and of course, lower cost. This means that most physicians believe that biosimilars work just as well as traditional biologics, biosimilars are less expensive for patients, and they are just as safe as other biologic medication.
This research proves that physicians are willing to embrace biosimilars, which is a huge step in the right direction for healthcare. Despite this, most physicians agree that they do not have the final say in whether or not they will begin regularly prescribing biosimilar medications, because it ultimately depends on the individual’s insurance firm.