European physicians have insufficient knowledge of biosimilars, according to a survey carried out by the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM). Only 22% of physicians consider themselves “very familiar” with this category of medicines, and while a majority (54%) have a “basic understanding” of biosimilars, 24% of participants could not define or have not heard about biosimilars before.
The results of the ASBM report — which surveyed 470 European physicians across five EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) were disclosed at a stakeholder roundtable event hosted by EuropaBio (the European Association of BioIndustries) this week. Survey participants included specialists in nephrology, rheumatology, dermatology, neurology, endocrinology and oncology.
The findings, say EuropaBio, stress that using the same International Non-Proprietary Name (INN) for two medicines (innovator biologic and biosimilar) can be misleading. It may lead to false attribution of adverse event if reporters only report the INN, and it may give the wrong impression that these medicines are structurally identical.
Although the results showed that physicians prefer to use brand names when prescribing biological medicines and reporting adverse events, the findings around the use of INN and its meaning in the context of biosimilar products lead us to conclude that the use of distinguishable INN for all biologics, including biosimilars, is critical to further strengthen and facilitate patient safety through effective pharmacovigilance.
Michael Reilly, Executive Director of ASBM, said that the survey — the first large-scale survey on biosimilars in Europe — puts “current international, EU as well as national policy developments in the field of naming and substitution into perspective.”
Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio, said: “In the coming months, EuropaBio shall commit to raising awareness, through an open dialogue with physicians and regulators, which will include workshops at member state level.”