NHS England publishes authoritative information on biosimilar medicines

Document provides key clinical and non-clinical stakeholders with accessible information on how to support the appropriate use of all biological medicines

The British Generic Manufacturers Association, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) have joined forces to welcome NHS England’s new publication: 'What is a Biosimilar Medicine?'. The publication is a result of a collaboration between the Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA), NHS England, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and pharmaceutical industry trade associations.

Biological medicines have revolutionised patient treatment by offering new and effective medicines for acute and chronic conditions, including a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, neutropenia, cancers and enzyme or hormone deficiencies. As originator biological medicines come off patent and more biosimilar medicines become available, it is important that all staff in the NHS with responsibility for commissioning, prescribing, administering, supplying and monitoring all biological medicines, including biosimilar medicines, are given authoritative information to support their successful introduction.

This document provides key clinical and non-clinical stakeholders with accessible information on how to support the appropriate use of all biological medicines, including biosimilar medicines for the benefit of NHS patients. Drawing on NHS, regulatory, professional and industry expertise, the document provides an authoritative source of reference on this complex topic.

Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, NHS England, said: ‘As the range of biosimilar medicines increases, it is important that the NHS plans for their timely, appropriate and cost-effective introduction. Therefore, all staff in the NHS, from senior managers to commissioners, through to frontline health professionals need to understand more about biosimilars. I hope the information contained in this document will serve that purpose, and will help to ensure that the NHS makes the most of these important medicines.’

Warwick Smith, Director General of the BGMA, said: 'In our view, 2015 represents a breakthrough year for biosimilars, which have the potential to offer the NHS considerable cost savings, especially as they are often used to treat long-term conditions. This will enable the NHS to treat more patients with these life-changing products.’

'Virginia Acha, Executive Director, Research, Medical and Innovation at the ABPI, said: ‘Europe has been leading the global development and regulation of biosimilars for more than 10 years. Patients and healthcare systems benefit from additional choices and increased competition, which biosimilars can provide. ABPI and its members believe that what we need now is a process to translate the successful experience of biosimilar development and regulation into the clinical pathway.’

Steve Bates, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association, said: ‘The BIA and its members have been happy to work in partnership with NHS England and stakeholder organisations on this new document, which we hope will be a useful guide to healthcare professionals and ensure that patient safety remains the primary driver when considering the introduction of biosimilar medicines to the NHS.’

The NHS England document, ‘What is a Biosimilar Medicine?’ is available here.

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