Sandoz Philippines organized a multi-stakeholder event about biosimilars entitled “Unlocking the Biosimilar Potential to Bridge the Unmet Healthcare Needs in the Philippines”, in line with the celebration of the 3rd edition of the Global Biosimilars Week(GBW). The meeting was graced by representatives from various sectors who were present during the presentations of world-leading expert in biologic medicines, Dr. Paul Cornes,and the President of the Thai Rheumatism Assocation (TRA) Dr. Prapaporn Pisitkun, as well as real world experience sharing on biologics’ impact and challenges from the perspective of patients and clinical practitioners. In line with the Global Biosimilars Week’s theme “Strengthening Healthcare – The Value of Biosimilar Medicines”, Dr. Cornes’ presentation focused on the principle of Value-Based Medicine, while Dr. Pisitkun focused on how they integrated biosimilar medicines into their practice and healthcare system. The open forum and synthesis were both moderated by Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, a professor of Health Sociology and Global Health in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology, and a member of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) on COVID-19.
With this multi-stakeholder meeting, it is aimed that the biosimilars market continue to grow in the country in order toaddress issues on healthcare costs, grow demand for biosimilarsdue to its cost-effectiveness, and pave the way for an increased demand in a variety of therapeutic applications.
“For 20 years, we at Sandoz Philippines has strived to stay true to our purpose of making access happen for our fellow Filipinos. We brought one of the first biosimilar medicines approved by the FDA Philippines in 2017, since the issuance of guidelines on “biosimilar” or “similar biotherapeutic” products in 20144. Now, Sandoz is leading this multistakeholder initiative to increase awareness of biosimilars and take the conversation further. This will be a great platform for information-sharing on topics such as the role biosimilar medicines will play in cancer care and other diseases, the importance of sustainable procurement practices for a healthy, competitive, off-patent biologics and biosimilar medicines landscape and education in improving stakeholder literacy on biosimilar medicines,” said Eleanor Lopez, Country Head, Sandoz Philippines.
Sandoz Philippines, a multinational generics company, on its 20th year in the Philippines which coincides with Global Biosimilars Week, supports the country’s efforts in ensuring that patients have timely access to appropriate and quality medicines.
What are biosimilars?
A biosimilar is a successor to a biologic medicine for which the patent has expired and exclusivity has been lost. The development of biologic medicines is a complex process because these are extracted from living organisms, tissues, or cells. Biologic medicines are a game-changer in treating and preventing many disabling and life-threatening diseases like cancer. However, the cost of developing and distributing biologics drives the rising healthcare cost, which may restrict patient access to potentially life-saving treatments. (1)
“Population aging, rise in prevalence of chronic diseases and ever-improving medical technologies, drugs, and standards are significant stressors for the sustainability of healthcare systems. Healthcare providers are finding ways to provide affordable medicines and services to patients. Real-world experience shows the increasing benefit of adapting value-based medicines. Managing the costs of cancer will be the model we use for other diseases,” noted Dr. Paul Cornes, European School of Oncology.
Value-based medicine expands the focus from mere efficacy of treatment further to serving the ‘value’ that matters to the stakeholders. This means making the most out of the resources and options available, which is especially important in managing the burden of cancer as the cost of cancer drugs alone rises to five times faster than other classes of medicine. (2)
The prospect of more affordable options that are as safe and efficacious as the reference medicines opens up opportunities for healthcare systems to expand access to biologics for more patients, free up resources for investment in new areas, and relieve pressured healthcare budgets.
Benefits of biosimilars
Since their first use in the 1980s, biologic medicines have become indispensable tools in modern medicine. Advancements in biologic research and development have pushed the frontiers of science, bringing lifesaving treatments to patients suffering from deadly diseases, such as cancer. Biologic therapies have also helped patients make great strides in managing chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. (3)
“Biosimilars are important because they can provide competition in the market and expand patient access to critical medicines. We live in an era of biologic medicine. With an aging population and growing demand for treating chronic conditions, biologic use is on the rise. And in an environment where health decisions are increasingly made based on value and cost, biosimilars will play a vital role in improving patient access to needed medicine.” Dr. Prapaporn Pisitkun, President of Thai Rheumatology Association.
Dr. Pisitkun tackled the best practices done in Thailand in improving the availability and accessibility to high-quality biosimilars. Their group is responsible for coming up with the local biosimilar consensus in Thailand, which aims to compare and contrast available biologics in the market (reference biologics and biosimilars) to guide prescribing and patient decision-making.
Biologics are innovative treatment options for patients affected by debilitating and life-threatening diseases; however, they are often associated with high costs and limited patient access. Fortunately, more affordable options for many patients who rely on biologic treatments are beginning to enter the market: biosimilars.
By acting as a convenor for this first-ever biosimilar multi-stakeholder event, Sandoz is optimistic that this will serve as ajumpstart to further discourse and planning for future initiatives and will continue engaging other players and stakeholders for inclusive availability of these medicines for more Filipinos.