We talked a lot on this blog last year about biosimilars; what they are and why it’s important to know about them. (Read our curated digital magazine on biosimilars here.) With the entry of biosimilars in the breast cancer treatment landscape due later this year, there are still questions and discussions about how it will affect current and future breast cancer patients. To help understand these questions and perspectives, we decided it was important to bring together those people who are impacted the most: patients and physicians.
We conducted two national virtual roundtables – one with breast cancer patients and one with medical oncologists. During these sessions we discussed key topics including how to best communicate information about biosimilars to those diagnosed with breast cancer, recommendations on the implementation and roll-out of biosimilars in Canada, and considerations around cost-savings.
These discussions resulted in our new white paper “Breast Cancer & Biosimilars: Recommendations on Use, Implementation and Patient Communications”. We’ve summarized the key take-aways from both groups and provided recommendations based on these perspectives.
Ultimately, patients want to see the development of resources that can help to better explain and provide context to the prescribing of biosimilars. Allowing for more understanding can reduce anxiety about being prescribed a biosimilar over a biologic. Additionally, educational resources for health care professionals can allow for better communication between patients and their physicians.
Clear direction from the government on naming conventions, computer coding and identifying the appropriate indications for stage and type will better prepare health care professionals when more breast cancer biosimilars become available. We also recommend, based on input from these roundtables, that provinces should not mandate interchangeability between biologics and biosimilars. If a patient is successfully being treated with a biologic, the decision to stay or switch to a biosimilar should be made between the patient and her physician. The same can be said for a patient who is starting on a new treatment; the decision to use a biosimilar should lie with the physician and the patient.
Finally, Health Canada should ensure that post-marketing surveillance be conducted and data on treatment outcomes should be shared.
You can read in full what patients and physicians are saying about the entry of biosimilars in breast cancer treatment and what steps should be taken next here.