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    Biosimilar familiarity expands

    Safety concerns surround interchangeability

    Dr. WuDermatologists and some psoriasis patients might soon grapple with switching from a biologic to a biosimilar. Infliximab-dyyb (Inflectra, Celltrion) a biosimilar to infliximab (Remicade/Janssen), which was FDA approved in 2016, is commercially available.

    Others may soon follow. Infliximab-abda (Renflexis, Samsung Bioepis) was approved in late April this year.  Etanercept-szzs (Erelzi, Sandoz), a biosimilar of etanercept (Enbrel, Amgen), was approved in August 2016, and adalimumab-atto (Amjevita, Amgen), a biosimilar of adalimumab (Humira, AbbVie), got the FDA’s nod September 2016. Erelzi and Amjevita are tied up in court with patent issues, according to Jashin J. Wu, M.D., who is a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board, councilor for the International Psoriasis Council, and director of dermatology research for Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.

    It’s not clear when Renflexis will be commercially available.

    Dr. Wu, who presented on biosimilars in March 2017 at the annual MauiDerm meeting, says dermatologists are aware that biosimilars are on the horizon but many have questions and concerns about their use.

    It’s true, he says, that much about biosimilar use remains a mystery for practicing dermatologists. Even Dr. Wu, who directs the Psoriasis Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, isn’t sure when he’ll prescribe biosimilars or if he’ll have a choice in the matter.

    Dr. Wu and colleagues surveyed 116 dermatologists about their familiarity of biosimilars in the treatment of psoriasis, results of which are published in the April Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. They found that on a scale of one to five, with one being very unfamiliar and five being very familiar, respondents reported a mean 2.7. However, respondents gave an average 3.4 rating to their concern (five being extremely concerned, in this case) about safety issues if patients are switched from the originator biologic to multiple other biosimilars.

    “Our study was the first to provide insight into dermatologists’ current knowledge and perspectives of biosimilars. The majority were unfamiliar with biosimilars, skeptical regarding their efficacy and safety, and concerned regarding the practice of interchangeability,” Dr. Wu says. “We need to do a better job in educating our fellow dermatologists about biosimilars.”

    Next: Biosimilars 101

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...


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