Background Physicians across many medical specialties, including Rheumatology, Dermatology, and Neurology, commonly prescribe biologic therapies, such as TNF inhibitors, botulinum toxins, growth factors, and vaccines. A biosimilar is not identical to the innovator biologic. Because biosimilars are structurally distinct from innovator biologics, biosimilars may produce significantly different side effects and safety profiles compared to innovator biologics. Therefore, it is critically important that physicians are aware of the differences between biologic therapies. It is unknown whether physicians' understanding of biologic and biosimilar medicines differs across geographic regions.
Objectives To determine whether differences exist in physicians' understanding of biologic and biosimilar medicines in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe.
Methods An internet-based survey was completed by physicians in the U.S., Latin America (Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico), and Western Europe (Spain, UK, France, Italy, and Germany). Survey respondents practiced in multiple settings and represented the following medical specialties: Rheumatology, Neurology, Dermatology, Nephrology, Endocrinology, and Oncology.
Results The survey was completed by 376 U.S. physicians, 399 Latin American physicians, and 470 European physicians. The majority of survey respondents in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe (91%, 88%, 92%, respectively) indicated that they prescribed biologic medicines to patients. U.S. physicians were 41% more likely than Latin American physicians and 43% more likely than European physicians to believe that biologic medicines with the same non-proprietary name have identical chemical structures. In addition, U.S. physicians were 34% more likely than Latin American physicians and 43% more likely than European physicians to believe that biologics sharing the same non-proprietary name produce the same therapeutic results. Eighty-two percent of U.S. physicians, 85% of Latin American physicians, and 74% of European physicians indicated that the authority to write “dispense as written” when prescribing a biologic is critical or very important.
Conclusions Across all geographic areas, physicians consistently believe that it is critically important that physicians retain the authority to choose which biologics their patients will receive. However, significant differences exist in the proportion of physicians who believe that biologics sharing the same non-proprietary name have the same chemical structure and produce identical results. These differences suggest that European physicians have a more accurate and complete understanding of the differences between biologics and biosimilar medicines compared to U.S. and Latin American physicians. Additional research is needed to determine the reasons for these differences.
Acknowledgement Data for this study was obtained with permission from surveys conducted by the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines.
Disclosure of Interest A. Molinari: None declared, H. Gewanter: None declared, M. Reilly: None declared, B. Kennedy: None declared, D. Charles Consultant for: Dr. Charles receives income from Allergan, Ipsen, Medtronic, and the Alliance for Patient Access for consulting services.
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