Researchers at Pfizer conducted a survey on the knowledge, awareness, and usage of biosimilars among caregivers, patients — including psoriasis patients — and the general population in the U.S. and the European Union, with focus on the perceptions of biosimilars compared to originator biologics and advocacy group impact on patient’s willingness to try a biosimilar.
The findings highlight an immediate need for patient education and clinical trials focusing on biosimilar use.
The research paper, “Patient attitudes and understanding about biosimilars: an international cross-sectional survey,” was published in Patient Preference and Adherence.
Biosimilar are biologic products that present no clinically meaningful differences with the original, licensed biologic product, in terms of safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity, and are produced, as the biologic product, in living cells. Biosimilars cannot be considered identical to generic medicines, as generic equivalents are produced via chemical synthesis and can be identical to the biologic reference product, whereas biosimilars cannot or are not required to be exactly like the referenced biological product.
Biosimilars offer a number of advantages to patients, namely reduced costs, and also cost savings for the healthcare system and increased access to biologic therapies. Here, researchers sought to understand patient, caregiver, and general population awareness and knowledge about biosimilars, as this is critical to the development of patient education programs. The survey was conducted prior to the approval of any biosimilars in the U.S. so differences were expected vs. the EU, where biosimilars have been available for years.
The international survey had 3,198 respondents and was divided into distinct sections, such as medication-class awareness, usage and knowledge about biosimilar therapies, perceptions of clinical trials and involvement of advocacy groups.
The participating individuals were divided into diagnosed patients with psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, lung cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or colorectal cancer; diagnosed patients with these diseases who participated in patient support groups (diagnosed advocacy); caregivers who have a loved one with these diseases and that participate in medical decisions; and finally, the general population.
The results indicate that awareness about biologic therapies was significantly higher in diagnosed, diagnosed advocacy and caregiver groups when compared to the general population, 45 to 78 percent vs. 27 percent, respectively.
Awareness of biosimilars was, however, low across all groups, namely regarding safety, efficacy and access to these agents, with only 6 percent of the general population acknowledging some knowledge of these therapies. The diagnosed advocacy group reported the highest awareness about biosimilar therapies, 20 to 30 percent. The survey also found the existence of barriers to the participation of in clinical trials, despite general positive perceptions by respondents.
“Patient education programs, developed in partnership with advocacy groups should provide patients with the necessary information to make informed decisions about the use of these products. Additional studies and follow-ups could be conducted to determine whether and how attitudes change with education,” concluded the authors.
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