Involvement of the pharmacist in the care team can affect biosimilar adoption

Involvement of the pharmacist in the care team can affect biosimilar adoption

Sonia Oskouei, PharmD, Vice President, Biosimilars at Cardinal Health, discusses her presentation on the role of pharmacists in driving biosimilar adoption in 2023 and the future.

Request: How does the pharmacist’s involvement in the cancer care team affect the adoption of biosimilars for patients?

Sonia T. Oskouei: Pharmacists are becoming increasingly involved in the care team, particularly in oncology and the healthcare system. Hence, pharmacists often collaborate or guide with physicians to support the educational process associated with biosimilars, and this is multi-stakeholder education, both physicians and other pure pharmacists, and support for patients and their journey.

Pharmacists also contribute significantly to the adoption and management of biosimilars, particularly in the healthcare system environment as often a guide for formulation decisions, the involvement of the P&T committee, where they are looking not only at the clinical considerations of biosimilars, but they incorporate the economic and even operational considerations associated with these products, so you understand the full picture and how best to optimize and leverage biosimilars within your own institutions.

Request: With the FDA interchangeability designation, are pharmacists the primary people on the care team making biosimilar replacements or are other cancer care team members making the replacements before they reach the pharmacist?

Sonia T. Oskouei: The impact of the interchangeability designation is indeed more significant for those products that will fall under the benefit of the pharmacy or the classic retail pharmacy business. When we look at the role of interchangeability designation in the medical benefit we most commonly see oncology biosimilars working today, it is somewhat limited due to relevance there, or irrelevance there.

Pharmacists are often key stakeholders within healthcare institutions who support formulation decisions or therapy transitions through a process more commonly known as therapeutic interchanges. Because they support formulation decisions as part of the cancer care team, product decisions are made that are truly outside and independent of any interchangeability designations.

This is a large area of ‚Äč‚Äčnear misperception at times and misinformation out there about the relevance and meaning of the interchangeability designation, which is a unique FDA regulatory term in the United States that allows pharmacists the level of substitution, and therefore this it will be most relevant to those biosimilars that are within the pharmacy benefit since the first insulin biosimilar was approved, for example, and with additional biosimilar candidates looking to enter the market in the coming years that have hit more retail pharmacy space .

Request: How many pharmacists are aware of the FDA’s interchangeability designation and the power it gives them to make drugs more affordable to patients through biosimilar replacements?

Sonia T. Oskouei: The interchangeability designation really has implications for those products that will be phased out in retail pharmacies or specialty pharmacies that rely on pharmacy benefits. So when we think of the pharmacist’s familiarity with interchangeability, the pharmacist is a broad profession and multiple sites of care. For example, in the healthcare system environment where there has been a lot of experience of medical benefits with biosimilars, we may be more familiar with the terminology of interchangeability as we had our first biosimilar available since 2015.

However, as Cardinal Health Market Research recently pointed out with retail pharmacists, there are still some opportunities for education and to fill the knowledge gaps associated with the designation. Less than half of the recently surveyed retail pharmacists were very familiar with an interchangeable designation. This is a great opportunity to support educational efforts with this stakeholder group with these pharmacists, especially as this designation is more applicable to services provided in the retail environment.

Request: What would you recommend interested pharmacists do to learn more about the FDA’s interchangeability designation and their ability to support biosimilar replacements for patients?

Sonia T. Oskouei: Pharmacists are the drug experts, so this is a great area where pharmacists can really take a break and lead and support the educational efforts around as well. So there are some fantastic resources being handed out, especially by the FDA, around key information about what the designation means how biosimilar candidates get that designation, so ultimately what it should allow at the end of the day, which is the level of pharmacists. replacement.

I highly recommend reviewing the FDA’s resources. One of the most recent initiatives that the FDA has completed has been the creation of a biosimilar-associated curriculum that can be incorporated into pharmacy schools, medical schools, nursing programs, etc. and that also contains great information.

I will also say that when it comes to making interchangeability operational and understanding state laws, at Cardinal Health we have also created additional resources to help manage it. For example, we have created an interactive map of state interchangeability where pharmacists can choose their states and understand the Board of Pharmacy laws associated with the substitution of interchangeable biosimilars. There are more and more resources being developed to help provide pharmacists with the information they need.

Request: What are your predictions for the pharmacist’s role in biosimilar adoption in the future?

Sonia T. Oskouei: My prediction for the role of the pharmacist in adopting biosimilars in the future is that they will play a more important role, and I say this because there will be expanded treatment sites and therapeutic areas where biosimilars will come to market. Of course, by expanding the cure sites, you will have more biosimilars and more pharmacists able to support these products.

So far it has been strongly supported and managed from the point of view of the health care system or doctor’s office where you also have a pharmacist providing clinical services. As we look to the future and the types of products to come, you will expand it to retail pharmacy, specialty pharmacy mail order, other service sites where you have pharmacists serving patients and that can create interventions and really support the future. adoption of these products. I foresee an even more important role for pharmacists in the future.

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