Raising clinician awareness of using biosimilar products.
Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: Why don’t we switch gears to our next topic, about education on biosimilars. Bhavesh, we’ll start with you on this topic. I think educating clinicians, patients, and the public are really important in this area and certainly a major challenge. From your perspective, what are some of the challenges that go into raising clinician awareness of biosimilar products and educating them about safety and efficacy? As a clinician, when I first heard about biosimilars 5 or 6 years ago, automatically my first defense was, “Well, I don’t want to use them in curative situations because I feel like there’s not enough information.” Also, there’s been this general migration toward more acceptance of biosimilars as we see more and more data come out. So pharmacists have to educate patients and providers all the time. What’s your approach, and what are the challenges you see?
Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: I think both patient and provider education are challenging. It’s obviously a different spectrum of challenges.
Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: Why don’t you take the providers, and then Tim, we’ll have you do the patients.
Tim Peterson, PharmD, BCOP: OK.
Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: These are 2 different groups of people to educate.
Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: What actually helped us is identifying a provider champion who actually understands biosimilars—the science and all the aspects around biosimilars—and having them help us educate other providers. It’s challenging for a pharmacist to do everything, so having a provider champion really helps with that. Then, of course, it’s helpful to use KOLs [key opinion leaders] who have actually been very publicly talking about biosimilars and have experience with biosimilars in their practice.
Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: For the audience, can you tell us who a KOL is?
Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: They are a key opinion leader in the specific disease. A lot of those resources really help. Of course, providers are driven by guidelines. If you have guidelines to support those evidence-based guidelines, NCCN [National Comprehensive Cancer Network], you have at least 20 to 30 experts who are actually blessing the guidelines and recommending these agents. Having a lot of that support helps, but there’s also some education that we do on the back end in terms of the whole pathway of biosimilarity, and that actually determines extrapolation of indication. Once they understand that, I think that it actually makes more sense.
Also, we’ve seen the experience from Europe. There is a lot of information published in Europe that we can also dig up for the providers. So I think using multiple venues to educate the providers can help.
Anthony Mato, MD, MSCE: Have you ever come across a provider who just simply says, “No, I don’t want to switch my patients to a biosimilar. I know what I’m doing, and it’s not going to happen.” Have you ever experienced that level of resistance, and how have you handled that?
Bhavesh Shah, RPh, BCOP: Of course, there’s always going to be 1 provider who says, “I don’t believe in it.” It goes back to having a provider champion, and having a peer-to-peer conversation is probably more appropriate, as well as having a chief of the service and also KOLs to help support you in that, to help convince that provider.