The Role for Biosimilars in Oncology - Episode 6

Impact of Biosimilars on Cancer Treatment

March 11, 2020

A review of the impact of biosimilars on cancer treatment.


  • Role of Biosimilars in US vs Europe
  • Efficacy of Biosimilars vs Biologics

Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: Why don’t we switch gears and talk about evidence-based care. Our focus for this part of the conversation will be oncology, where I think there’s tremendous impact. There’s tremendous potential for having impact of biosimilars in this area. Let’s start by talking, Marc, about how the biologics and biosimilars have impacted cancer treatment in general, because this has certainly revolutionized how we take care of patients. Focusing on the US market, what proportion of the market right now do you think the biosimilars have?

Marc Earl, PharmD, BCOP: I’d love to hear from the panelists too about the percent uptake of biosimilars from that perspective. For our hospital, we’re still evaluating the use of biosimilars, so we don’t have a large uptake in that perspective. But I have heard centers across the United States varying from up to 50% to 60% in this area. It’s very individual hospital based, in my opinion.

Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: Let’s take a step back just to talk about biologics, because for an audience that may not be very familiar with this area. Certainly every single cancer type I could think of—and I focus on leukemia and lymphoma, but that’s just a small proportion of oncologic diagnoses—biologic agents have literally transformed care. Maybe it’s good to start with that perspective, where these are potentially life-saving drugs that have changed the standard of care in every aspect of oncology.

Marc Earl, PharmD, BCOP: I think where I focus there first, is on the cost perspective. There’s a huge push in oncology to reduce cost and increase quality. That’s where I think the biosimilars can play the largest role. There are a number of institutions that are part of alternative payment models, oncology care model through Medicare, ACOs [accountable care organizations]. This is a great example of a way to reduce the cost of care but maintain that same high quality of care that we’re used to with biologic therapies.

Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: What I could add to that is if we look at the top 10 biologics that we utilize in the world or in the country, 3 of them are actually made by the same company. Essentially, the top 10 biologics are responsible for $85 billion in expense in cancer majority. There’s a significant cost there. How can we offset that cost? One of the strategies would be biosimilar adoption because we know biosimilars actually are offered at 20% to 30% discount, so that could significantly help cancer treatments and decrease the overall cost of care in cancer.

Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: Is that always the case that the biosimilar is less expensive than the biologic?

Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: Yes, absolutely.

Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: That’s universally been the case?

Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: Yes.

Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: OK.