Biosimilars: what’s in a name?


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The way a biosimilar is named may affect whether a pharmacist is willing to substitute it for a brand name biologic, a new study has found.

The study, published in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy, examined pharmacist perceptions of biosimilar naming conventions and their impact on confidence to dispense biosimilars.

It also looked at the burden created by legislation requiring pharmacists to complete postdispense notifications.

Participants surveyed reported preferring a biosimilar naming convention that uses a nonproprietary base with a designated suffix (48.1%), compared with the use of a nonproprietary base alone (26.3%), nonproprietary base plus a prefix (14.2%), or a unique brand name (11.4%).

However, when participants were asked to report their confidence levels when dispensing a biosimilar in place of the reference biologic, more participants reported high levels of confidence when the products shared the same nonproprietary name (62.9%).

Most of the pharmacists (64.9%) reported perceptions of increased burden when required to provide a postdispense notification to prescribers when dispensing biosimilars.

“According to the survey used in this study, pharmacists prefer the use of a naming convention for biosimilars that includes a nonproprietary proper name with a designated suffix; however, levels of confidence in substituting a biosimilar for the reference biologic are highest when products share the same nonproprietary name,” wrote author Daniel Tomaszewski.

“In addition, the results of this study suggest that the naming convention and postdispense notification requirements may affect the willingness of some pharmacists to dispense interchangeable biologics.

“This effect will be minimised if interchangeable biologics share the same nonproprietary name as the reference biologics.”

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