The British Biosimilars Association has been formally launched today with the sole focus of increasing the understanding and use of biosimilar medicines in the UK.
The BBA is an expert sector group of the British Generic Manufacturers Association exclusively focused on biosimilar medicines. BBA members’ core focus will be ensuring patients can benefit from these medicines to the same extent as those elsewhere in Europe. The UK lags behind some European countries in the take-up of biosimilars, and restricting patient access to these medicines costs the NHS money that could be used for other treatments, according to the BBA.
There are seven biosimilar molecules on the market in the UK (somatropin, follitropin alfa, filgrastim, infliximab, epotein alfa, insulin glargine and etanercept), but this is set to increase due to a number of factors including patent expiries, increasing clinical awareness and knowledge as well as supportive guidance from organisations such as NICE. Keith Ridge, NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “Biosimilar medicines have enormous potential to deliver increased patient access as well as savings to the NHS which can be reinvested elsewhere. It is important that clinicians are aware of their potential and that wherever appropriate biosimilar competition is encouraged."
BBA chair Tim de Gavre said: “Our role through the BBA is to promote the benefits of these medicines to patients’ representatives, healthcare professionals, regulators and payers, to increase understanding and to drive a sustainable environment for the development, production and continuing optimised use of biosimilar medicines across the UK.”
Warwick Smith, director-general of the BBA and the BGMA, said: “At present, six of the top 10 medicine expenditures by the NHS are on biological drugs. With many more due to come off patent in the next few years, biosimilar medicines offer a real opportunity to increase patient choice and access to this vital class of medicines as well as delivering value to NHS."
The Association’s founder members are Accord, Allergan, Boehringer Ingelheim, Napp, Sandoz, and Teva. For further information, visit the BBA website.