Today’s healthcare arsenal includes biological products, or biologics, that are used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of diseases and medical conditions. Their use continues to grow consistently each year, and they are expected to account for 30% of new drug products launched between 2016-2020. Biologic medicines have grown to become an indispensable tool in modern medicine, but they are costly. While only 2 percent of the U.S. population uses biological drugs, biologics account for 40 percent of prescription drug spending in the U.S. Some originator brand biologics can cost as much as several hundred thousand dollars per patient per year.
Fortunately, more affordable options for many patients who rely on biologic treatments are beginning to enter the market: biosimilars. Biosimilars are developed to provide safe, effective alternative versions of existing biologic medicines (known as “reference products”) with scientifically comparable quality, safety and efficacy. With the approval of the nearly 10 biosimilars in the United States and research underway for many more, there is great scientific and regulatory momentum for biosimilars.
The approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biologic products will generate competition that lowers costs for patients, providers and the overall health care system. However, there is much work to be done to educate the public, physicians, and patients about biosimilars and their importance in increasing access to critical therapies.
Every day, doctors talk to their patients and educate them about the best treatment options for their conditions. When a biosimilar is a treatment option, making it part of those conversations could help broaden awareness and uptake of these important, more affordable treatments. If you are a physician or patient who would like to learn more about biosimilars, including their safety and efficacy, visit the Biosimilars Council resource page.