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ASBM Attends WHO INN Stakeholders Open Session on Distinguishable Names

April 8th, 2014

Geneva — ASBM was invited to share its perspectives before the World Health Organization’s 58th International Nonproprietary Names Consultation for Pharmaceutical Substances, Open Session for Stakeholders. At the meeting, ASBM Chairman Richard Dolinar, M.D., shared the results of a recent ASBM survey of European Physicians that concludes using the same INN for different biologic medicines can be misinterpreted by doctors and thus have unintended consequences for patients.

To see ASBM presentation, click here.

Pan-European survey calls for a shift in policy for biosimilars

March 18th, 2014

Brussels — Today, the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) disclosed the results of a survey of 470 European physicians, that took place in Q3 of 2013, across five EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK), regarding their prescribing habits and knowledge of biosimilar medicines. Participants in the survey included specialists in the fields of nephrology, rheumatology, dermatology, neurology, endocrinology and oncology. The results were released at a stakeholder roundtable hosted by EuropaBio, with representatives from physicians and patient groups, as well as industry and regulatory bodies.

One of the main findings of the survey relates to European physicians’ insufficient knowledge of biosimilars. Only 22% consider themselves as very familiar with this new category of medicines. Whilst a majority (54%) have a basic understanding of biosimilars 24% of participants cannot define or have not heard about biosimilars before.

The findings stress that using the same International Non-Proprietary Name (INN) for two medicines (innovator biologic and biosimilar) can be misleading. Firstly, this may lead to false attribution of adverse event if reporters only report the INN, but also it may give the wrong impression that these medicines are structurally identical (54% of those surveyed thought that the same INN meant the products were structurally identical).

Although the results showed that physicians prefer to use brand names when prescribing biological medicines and reporting adverse events, the findings around the use of INN and its meaning in the context of biosimilar products lead us to conclude that the use of distinguishable INN for all biologics, including biosimilars, is critical to further strengthen and facilitate patient safety through effective pharmacovigilance.

The survey also provides important information regarding substitution. 72% of prescribers consider it “Critical” or “Very Important” to decide whether a patient should receive an innovator biologic medicine or a biosimilar. As a consequence, 74% consider it “Critical” or “Very Important” that the mention of “Dispense as Written” on prescriptions should be respected, and 62% think that it is “not acceptable” for a pharmacist to determine which biologic medicine to dispense at initiation of treatment.

Michael Reilly, Executive Director of the ASBM, commented, “The ASBM survey is the first large-scale survey on biosimilars in Europe. It reflects the daily clinical practice with regards to biologic medicines including biosimilars, and provides facts and figures that put current international, EU as well as national policy developments in the field of naming and substitution into perspective.” He also added that key findings of the survey show that 54% of physicians surveyed only have a basic understanding of biosimilars, and more concerning that 24% cannot define or have not heard about biosimilars before.”

Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio, added, “The results of the survey indicate that the understanding of biosimilars is not yet wide-spread among physicians. At the same time, doctors need to be fully aware of the characteristics of biologics and biosimilars to be in a position to prescribe the medicine that will maximise patient outcomes. In the coming months, EuropaBio shall commit to raising awareness, through an open dialogue with physicians and regulators, which will include workshops at member state level.”


About EuropaBio:

EuropaBio is the European Association of BioIndustries. Our members are involved in research, development, testing, manufacturing and commercialisation of biotech products and processes in human and animal healthcare, diagnostics, bioinformatics, chemicals, crop protection, agriculture, food and environmental products and services. EuropaBio also counts a number of National Biotech Associations in its membership who in turn represent more than 1800 biotech SMEs.

ASBM-EuropaBio Roundtable Event

European Physician Survey, Executive Summary

ASBM-European Survey Presentation

ASBM Physician Survey Full Report

GCCA Press Release

Generics Bulletin

ASBM Forum Brings Together Leaders on Biosimilars Issues in 2014

March 6th, 2014

On February 25, ASBM held a forum to educate patient advocates, physician groups and members of its International Advisory Board on the complex issues related to biosimilars.


The half-day forum entitled, “Ensuring Access to Safe Biosimilars: Policy Developments and Emerging Challenges” focused on the challenges facing world regulators including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the importance of distinguishable non-proprietary names for biosimilars and the value of and need for patient, physician and pharmacist education on issues related to biosimilars.



Following opening remarks by ASBM Chairman Richard Dolinar, MD, this seven-minute video was shown, setting the stage for the day’s presentations and panels by answering some fundamental questions about biologic medicines: What are biologics? How do they help patients? How do they differ from chemical drugs? What are biosimilars? And what unique challenges do they present for regulators and policymakers?


Michael S. Reilly, ASBM Executive Director
view presentation

ASBM Executive Director Michael S. Reilly reviews the regulatory history of biosimilars in the U.S., beginning with the Affordable Care Act’s creation of a biosimilar pathway, and the formation of ASBM in late 2010 as a means of offering guidance to FDA from a diverse group of patients, physicians, researchers, and industry stakeholders. Mr. Reilly outlines major projects of ASBM over the past few years and tracks its evolution from a primarily domestic advocacy group, into a voice for global standards governing the safety, efficacy, approval, and naming of biosimilars.


Andrew Spiegel, ASBM Steering Committee Member and Co-executive Director of the Global Colon Cancer Association
view presentation

Mr. Spiegel discusses the value of patient advocacy, highlighting how ASBM has benefitted patients. Mr. Spiegel details his experience as a patient advocate including his work with patient groups around the world, and his advocacy to policymakers throughout the U.S. This presentation set the stage for the subsequent panel discussion featuring Mr. Spiegel, Marcia Horn, President of the International Cancer Advocacy Network, and Joseph Jefferson, Director of Advocacy and Alliance Development at HealthHIV. Brian Rye, Health Policy Analyst at Bloomberg Government, moderated the discussion.


Dirk Reitsma, MD, ASBM Advisory Board Member
view presentation

As the U.S. biosimilar pathway evolves, FDA continues to develop its guidance for biosimilar manufacturers, including what type of data a manufacturer will need to provide for a biosimilar to be determined as ‘interchangeable’, how clinical trials will need to be designed, and how well-understood the biosimilar’s mechanism of action must be to ensure quality and safety. ASBM International Advisory Board Member and oncology researcher Dirk Reitsma, MD gives a regulatory update and offers his thoughts on how current regulatory regimes in existence around the world may, or may not, impact FDA’s upcoming regulation.


Kirsten Vadheim, PhD
view presentation

Approval of any medicine for patient use requires safety and efficacy data over time, to minimize the incidence of adverse events. In this presentation, former FDA regulator Kirsten Vadheim underscores the importance of these high standards for biologics in particular, due to their complexity and extreme sensitivity to minor manufacturing differences. Also examined are the efforts of several organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO) to build a shared, international framework of regulatory standards for biosimilars.


Richard Dolinar, MD, ASBM Chairman view presentation
Phil Schneider, Associate Dean, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy view presentation

Under what circumstances may a biosimilar be substituted for its reference biologic, either by a pharmacist, insurer, or another third party? What type of communication and record-keeping must occur between prescriber and pharmacist to ensure good tracking and tracing of adverse events? These are the questions with which many state lawmakers are grappling, as biosimilar substitution legislation is debated across the U.S.

In conjunction with a panel discussion moderated by Brian Rye of Bloomberg Government, ASBM Chairman Richard Dolinar, MD presented the physician’s perspective on biosimilar substitution, along with a brief legislative review and update about an increasingly more collaborative approach to biosimilar legislation.

ASBM International Advisory Board Member and Associate Dean of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy Phil Schneider in turn offers the pharmacist’s perspective, highlighting the common ground between physician and pharmacist, and areas where communication and cooperation could be improved.

Dr. Dolinar Addresses State Legislators at NALEO Summit on Health

November 6th, 2013

On October 26, Dr. Richard Dolinar served as the keynote luncheon speaker at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Legislative Summit on Health in Las Vegas. Dr. Dolinar discussed the science and policy issues surrounding biosimilar provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with state legislators from across the country. He explained the differences between traditional chemical drugs and live biologics – stressing the fact that when attempting to replicate biologics, biosimilars, are similar to, but not exact versions of the biologic they aim to replicate and therefore they may act differently in the body.

Dr. Dolinar also gave background on the legislative battles states are facing and the need to prioritize patient safety as biosimilars are approved.

FDLI Annual Conference

April 26th, 2013

On April 23, Michael Reilly participated in the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) 2013 Annual Conference, speaking on a panel on the priorities and challenges facing the FDA and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). Following presentations by CBER officials, Diane Maloney, Associate Director for Policy, and Mary Malarkey, director in the Office of Compliance and Biologics Quality, Michael led the panel discussion by giving brief remarks on the complex issues facing state legislators as they try to understand the differences between biosimilars and generics and why those differences have many physicians concerned if they are not informed by a pharmacist when a biosimilar is substituted for a prescribed biologic.

The panel was moderated by Scott Cunningham, a partner with Covington & Burling LLP and also included presentations from Brian Malkin, with Frommer, Lawrence & Haug LLP and Mark S. Robbins, PhD, with DiaMedica USA, Inc.

Read more here.

ASBM Forum in Rhode Island

December 21st, 2012

On December 13th, ASBM members were invited to take a tour of a biologics manufacturing facility in Rhode Island to learn about the intricacies and complex processes involved with making biologic medicines.

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Biosimilars Forum in Colorado

December 21st, 2012

On December 6th, Chairman Richard Dolinar, M.D., and Executive Director Michael Reilly toured a biologic manufacturing facility in Longmont, CO. Several ASBM members also participated on the tour which was arranged to help attendees better understand the complexities of manufacturing biologics.

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Phoenix Forum

October 5th, 2012

The Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM), the International Cancer Advocacy Network (ICAN) and AZBio hosted “Biosimilars Policy Forum: Ensuring Patient Safety” on September 27, 2012 in Phoenix, AZ, to discuss the complex challenges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) faces as it seeks to establish a regulatory pathway that will lead to the approval of biosimilars in the U.S.

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DIA/FDA Conference on Biosimilars

September 17th, 2012

On September 13, Dr. Dolinar presented on two panels at the DIA/FDA Biosimilars Conference: Guidances, Science, and BsUFA in Washington, D.C. His first panel was on Pharmacovigilance, Naming, and Labeling and the second panel was on Interchangeability.

DIA Presentation on Biosimilar Naming
DIA Presentation on Interchangeability

During the conference, ASBM released a new survey examining physician practices and perspectives with regard to biosimilars and substitution.

Results showed:

Inappropriate substitution is a major risk if different biologics have the same scientific name.

  • 64 percent of surveyed physicians assume if products have the same name a patient can be safely switched from one product to another during treatment.
  • More than 76 percent view products with the same scientific name as structurally identical.

Names are the primary means of product identification for physicians.

  • The vast majority (99 percent) of physicians refer to biologic medicines by name for both recording in charts and for reporting adverse events.
  • Less than 1 percent of prescribers use national drug code numbers for records or reporting.

Physicians are very concerned about a patient being switched from one biologic to another.

  • 85 percent of responding physicians want the authority to designate a biologic medicine as “Dispensed as Written”, just as they have it for chemical products.
  • 86 percent of physicians want to be notified BEFORE a patient is switched to a biologic other than the one prescribed EVEN IF there are no known concerns associated with the product.

View the ASBM Biosimilars Survey.

ASBM Presents in Toronto, Canada

June 28th, 2012

On June 4, Alliance Chairman Dr. Richard Dolinar and Executive Director Michael Reilly presented at the Canadian Patient Experts in Health Technology forum in Toronto, Canada. The forum was organized by Durhane Wong-Rieger, president of the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders. The two-day event was set up to establish a global network of individual patient experts and discuss pressing issues related to the access of drugs and health technology.
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