They are a resource for the treatment of chronic diseases and for the sustainability of the health system, but for 88% of Italians biosimilar drugs are notorious unknown, even if they could widen access to care for currently untreated patients. These are the main data that emerge from the survey “Biological and biosimilar drugs” by Emg Different carried out between 12 and 16 November 2021 on a sample of 800 interviews, representative of the Italian adult population. The in-depth study entitled “Biosimilar, an opportunity to expand access to care”, an event promoted by Sandoz and broadcast live on Monday 29 November at 5.30 pm on the AdnKronos web channels, is dedicated to these issues.
Biosimilars are biological drugs highly similar to a biological based on the same active ingredient whose patent has expired. They are therapies that, as the name implies, derive from biological sources and are approved for the treatment or prevention of many inflammatory, autoimmune or cancer diseases. They are therefore also intended for patients with chronic diseases, people who have to live with rheumatic diseases, diabetes, psoriasis, autoimmune and inflammatory bowel diseases for very long periods, if not for a lifetime.
The survey just published shows that just over half of the sample (64%) knows that biological drugs are produced by living organisms and 75% is aware of the high costs of these therapies. Given these numbers, it is understandable that 88% of the sample has never heard of biosimilars. On the other hand, it is positively surprising that 92% know that the biosimilar is less expensive than the reference drug and that it has the same characteristics and efficacy as the reference biological (83%). Moreover, the lack of knowledge of these treatments is explained by noting that people know them in the face of their use either personal (45%) or in the family (about 30%).
On the front of the prescription of the biosimilar by the specialist only 5% would have resistance, but 37% confirm the need for more information to understand how to use it.
Particularly interesting is the question concerning the costs and the possible resource of biosimilars to extend the treatment to more patients. In fact, 64% of the sample agrees that, “when faced with two drugs that have the same efficacy, safety and quality, the National Health System (NHS) should promote the use of the cheapest drug”. Of course, it remains to be understood why a slice of 36% do not find this aspect useful, but there is an unexpected aspect that emerges on how respondents would use the money saved by a greater use of biosimilars. In the first place, 25% of the sample would use the unspent budget to “treat a larger number of patients, at the same cost for the NHS” and 14% to guarantee access to new therapies. Approximately one in 5 respondents propose to finance research on new innovative drugs, while 18% would help the families of frame patients.
88% of Italians who do not know what biosimilars are and the request for more information on these therapies, which emerged explicitly from 72% of the sample, is dedicated to the in-depth study “Biosimilar, an opportunity to expand access to care” , event promoted by Sandoz and broadcast live on Monday 29 November 2021 from 17:30 to 18:30 on adnkronos.com (https://www.adnkronos.com/scelte-di-salute-biosimilare-unopportunita-per – expand-access-to-care_3Sgb0hCBcnmssXOBHYp94a) and in the Facebook profile of AdnKronos.
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