Veteran Affairs Formulary Exclusively Includes Hadlima, Biosimilar to Humira

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Jon Martin, US commercial lead of biosimilars at Organon, discusses how making their biosimilar Hadlima the preferred product on the Veteran Affairs formulary will help lower treatment costs.

Jon Martin, US commercial lead of biosimilars at Organon, discusses how making their biosimilar Hadlima the preferred product on the Veteran Affairs (VA) formulary will help lower treatment costs. Martin emphasizes the VA's long-standing support for biosimilar adoption and discuss pharmacists' important role in educating veterans about biosimilars.

Q: The US Department of Veteran Affairs chose Hadlima to replace Humira in the VA National Formulary. What implications does this have for the formulary? How can this benefit veterans who need this drug?

Pharmacist selling medications in the pharmacy | Image Credit: rh2010 - stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: rh2010 - stock.adobe.com

Jon Martin: We're really excited about Hadlima being the preferred product on the Veteran Affairs (VA) formulary starting in March. We think it's a really good example of the private sector working with the public sector to improve affordability to high cost medications, and by increasing affordability of these medications, it enables the VA to actually expense resources to treat potentially even more patients.

Q: What measures can be taken to ensure a smooth transition for patients who are currently using Humira? Will they be switching to Hadilma?

Jon Martin: So formulary management is not a unique thing for the VA. The VA is accustomed to managing formularies and having preferred products, and so we don't imagine this environment or this situation to be any different than the historical patterns. But we do recognize that the pharmacists and physicians involved in the transition will play an important role in educating patients on the benefits on the switch and what to expect.

Q: Is there a potential for increased accessibility to treatment options now that the biosimilar is exclusive in the VA National Formulary? Could that improve adherence to treatment?

Jon Martin: I think it's important to recognize the VA is a high-quality health care delivery system in the [United States] and one of the largest ones in the [United States] for that matter, and having access to lower cost therapies is important to the VA, and the clinical decisions that impact veterans will, I think, be consistent whether it was Humira or Hadlima. We see this as a real opportunity for the VA to provide a lower cost therapy without compromising quality.

Q: Could this pave the way for other biosimilars to start to replace reference products on formularies?

Jon Martin: Larger, I think the VA has always been a leader and its acceptance of biosimilars. We have several products that have exclusive formulary position with the VA, and we've been a real advocate of partnering with with the VA to ensure that patients have access to low cost therapies. For this molecule and this opportunity to Humira opportunity. Specifically, I think the VA is an example of large systems that can begin to create market formation that would ultimately support long term utilization of biosimilars like Hadlima.

Q: What should pharmacists know about the formulary switch?

Jon Martin: I think it's important to recognize that pharmacists have always played an important role in the utilization of biosimilars. They have been champions about somewhere from the beginning, the early days. They understand the importance of education for patients that often received biosimilars, and so they've been a real champion, and they they've been able to educate patients on what biosimilars are and what to expect, and we expect in this situation with the veterans that the pharmacists will play a very, very key role in helping with the transition from Humira to the biosimilar.

Q:How could this help to promote the acceptance of biosimilars by health care professionals and pharmacists?

Jon Martin: I think it's really important, [when] we think about the VA specifically, again, it's one of the largest health care delivery systems we have in the country and treats nearly 9 million beneficiaries are eligible veterans. So that alone is a large number of patient populations that would get access to the biosimilars, and again, this isn't the first time the VA has advocated for biosimilar use. It's consistent with the VA over other categories, and we think that it's another shining example of the VA supporting biosimilar adoption in a way that supports patients in a meaningful way.

Q: What role can pharmacists play in patient education and awareness for the successful adoption of biosimilars as well as other biosimilars?

Jon Martin: As I said earlier, pharmacists have played a critical role in ensuring patients are educated in the process, if a switch is appropriate or or a new start, and they've been a champion of us biosimilars from the very beginning. We see the pharmacists playing a critical role in the current state, and even at future state when future biosimilars come along to help with the education and ultimately patient acceptance and adoption of these agents.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jon Martin: I think one of the things that we've talked about, and this is a little bit of step aside from the VA opportunity, but when we look to the larger Humira biosimilar opportunities, I think it's important to recognize that there are opportunities for patients to save by getting access to biosimilars. There's a significant amount of patients that are asked to pay high copays access to the brand. We have therapies now that are significantly less expensive, upwards of 85% less expensive, and when your copays in the [United States], if you're patient in the [United States]about the commercial benefit with co pays as a percentage of the list price, and now all of a sudden you have a product, it's an 85% discount. There's a real opportunity for those patients to save.

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