Gastroenterologists willing but wary of biosimilars

How physicians view biosimilars is one of the wildcards that will determine how popular the drugs become.

Gastroenterologists are especially important group because anti-TNF biologics, infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira) are commonly prescribed for inflammatory bowel disease.

When the American Gastroenterologist Association surveyed 180 of its members, it found a willing but wary attitude toward biosimilars.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of the respondents said they’d be likely to prescribe biosimilars when they become available, and half (49%) were enthusiastic, saying they were extremely or very likely to write a biosimilar script.

But the survey also show there’s a good deal of caution to the point of wariness among gastroenterologists.

By a large majority (80%), the respondents said they were concerned with “the level of clinical similarity in terms of effectiveness and safety to the reference biologic,” and two-thirds (67%) favored an FDA policy that would not allow “indication extrapolation.” With indication extrapolation, biosimilars can be used for indications that the reference drug has been approved for without being tested for those indications themselves.

More than half of the gastroenterologists (55%) believe that substitution of a biosimilars for its reference product should be permitted if the prescriber is notified and a third (35%) said they believe that pharmacy-level substitution should never be allowed.