Expect more biosimilars education from industry group

Biosimilar manufacturers have been given $5 million by the federal government for campaigns to encourage clinicians to prescribe cheaper versions of etanercept and infliximab.

A $5 million federal government grant under the Biosimilar Awareness Initiative has been awarded to a new educational arm of the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA).

The funding assigned to GBMA Education Limited is designed to boost  prescriber and consumer confidence in biosimilars, with the flow-on to include cost savings “from market competition on price, and related reductions in the PBS subsidised price under the PBS price disclosure arrangements”.

The Department of Health guidelines related to the Biosimilar Education Grant say the funding will improve awareness of the increasing availability and role of biosimilars and guide their integration into day-to-day clinical practice.

The funding, spread across four years, will aim to share the evidence base about biosimilars and deliver CPD in the form of print and online resources and other activities.

“The department has determined that the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) is the only organisation eligible to apply under this activity, due to GBMA’s role within the market place, and alignment with the policy framework for the activities required,” the guidelines said.

The GBMA says it is pleased to be part of a significant milestone in the Australian healthcare industry and looked forward to supporting improved biosimilar awareness.

“The GBMA is committed to pertinent and accurate education around biosimilar medicines in support of increased uptake and awareness at all levels, from the prescribing physician to the end-patient”, GBMA chair Mr Sylvain Vigneault said in a statement.

According to the GBMA, its member companies are acutely aware of the high cost of biological medicines to the PBS and see their role as providing a pathway to more affordable access to more treatments for patients.

“As the use of biosimilar medicines increases, lower prices for biological medicines could provide PBS subsidies for broader access to biological medicines and further drive continued innovation in life-changing medicines.”

Initial launch activities related to the educational grant include presentations at the Australian Pharmacy Professionals (APP 2018) conference and RACP Congress 2018 this month.

“These initial activities are intended to facilitate debate and discussion among various stakeholders, encourage peer-to-peer engagement and discussion, and to allow an avenue for constructive dialogue of benefits and concerns in the use of biosimilar medicines. Further engagement of stakeholder groups will occur throughout the grant lifecycle including clinicians,” the GBMA said

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