How do gastroenterologists view biologics & biosimilars? 10 points

Biologics are frequently prescribed for many gastrointestinal conditions. Biosimilars are copies, though not exact copies, of an original product.

The American Gastroenterological Association recently conducted a survey of 180 of its members to gain a snapshot of gastroenterologists' views on these drugs.

Here are 10 points from the survey.

1. Nearly all respondents (96 percent) prescribe biologic medicines.

2. The majority of respondents (81 percent) believe strong evidence from well-designed clinical studies supporting efficacy is an important factor when prescribing biologics.

3. Pre-authorization for biologics was cited as a major concern by 87 percent of respondents.

4. More than half of the GI physicians responding to the survey (60 percent) reported switching a patient's biologic treatment due to insurance company rules.

5. Less than half of respondents (40 percent) reported being very familiar with biosimilars. Just more than half (51 percent) reported being somewhat familiar with biosimilars.

6. Though familiarity with biosimilars was not high, 72 percent of respondents reported they would likely prescribe an interchangeable biosimilar. On the other hand, 59 percent of respondents would prescribe a non-interchangeable biosimilar.

7. Among the respondents who were not familiar with biosimilars, 69 percent reported they would not likely prescribe the drugs because of their lack of experience. Sixty-six percent of those unlikely to prescribe biosimilars believe there will not be enough clinical data on the medications.

8. Though there are GI physicians willing to prescribe biosimilars, a number of concerns linger. Eighty percent of respondents report being very concerned with the level of clinical similarity — in terms of safety and efficacy — between the reference biologic and corresponding biosimilar.

9. More than half of the gastroenterologists included in the survey (55 percent) believe pharmacy-level substitution of interchangeable biosimilars should only be allowed by prescriber notification.

10. Just 35 percent of respondents believe pharmacy-level substitution should never be allowed.

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