The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association has welcomes the recommendation by the PBAC to list biosimilar infliximab (Inflectra) on the PBS and to recommend the marking as equivalent, also known as “a” flagging, of Inflectra with the reference product, Remicade.
“The decision to apply an ‘a’ flag to a biosimilar in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits is an uptake driver that will enable a pharmacist to substitute the biosimilar for the reference biological medicine in exactly the same way as generic medicines,” says GBMA CEO Belinda Wood.
“The PBAC has stated it would consider ‘a’ flagging of biosimilars on a case-by-case basis. Healthcare professionals and patients should therefore be reassured that the PBAC has taken an evidence-based approach in making this recommendation.
“It is important to note that even with “a” flagging of biosimilars, doctors retain prescribing control and the ability to tick the ‘no substitution’ box on prescriptions,” she says.
Patients also retain the right to choose a biosimilar at the pharmacy.
“The recommendation for PBS listing of biosimilar infliximab recognises the important role biosimilars play in supporting PBS affordability today and in the future,” says Wood.
“Australian patients will benefit from more affordable biosimilars and, as a result of competition, the PBS savings expected to be generated from the PBS listing of these biosimilars can provide an opportunity to improve patient access to life-changing medications.”
With brand-name biological medicines now accounting for $2.3 billion, or around 25% of annual PBS expenditure, the increased availability of biosimilars is expected to deliver significant savings to the PBS.