Rapid uptake in generics, biosimilars are key in improving medicine access

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Rapid uptake in generics, biosimilars are key in improving medicine access

By Sandra Levy - 01/21/2020

Despite progress in the availability and use of generic and biosimilar medicines, there is the potential for more competitive prices and greater uptake. This is the contention of Alessandra Ferrario and colleagues, expressed in a recent editorial in BMJ, entitled, “Strategies to achieve fairer prices for generic and biosmilar medicines.”

Ferrario, a postdoctoral research fellow at the department of population medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute, said that although polices have been introduced to increase the use of generics and biosimilars, large differences remain in the price and uptake of these medicines between countries.

“The availability and use of fairly priced, quality-assured generic and biosimilar medicines can make an important contribution in improving access to medicines,” said Ferrario.

She cited the treatment of HIV and hepatitis C in low and middle-income countries as notable examples of generic medicines enabling greater access to care.

Among the key messages in the editorial:

•  Trust in the quality, safety, and bioequivalence of generics and biosimilars is essential to increase their use.

•  Timely entry in the market is also important for uptake.

•  Further, an analysis of the market and a process of change including relevant stakeholders (i.e. health professionals, payers, patients, health authorities) are essential to design policies that will promote a healthy market where fairly priced medicines are available on a timely and sustainable basis.

  • No one policy strategy will lower prices, broaden equitable access, and lead to affordable spending for quality generics and biosimilars. Rather, multiple actions by different stakeholders in the system are needed. These include laws and regulations, efficient procurement systems, formularies, and reimbursement system restrictions (such as tiered co-payments, incentives for prescribers of generics) as well as individual and group targeted education (including social media campaigns).

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