Biosimilar Adoption in the United States
Although biosimilars have been widely adopted in highly regulated markets, including Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan, the first biosimilar drug in the US market was introduced last year. In 2013, the global market for biologics was $200 billion, with an estimated size of $386 billion in 2019. The biosimilar sub-sector creates substantial opportunity for the US pharmaceutical industry, so understanding market perceptions and adoption challenges is a major focus for generic drug companies.
Clarkston Consulting partnered with the Babson College Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE) team to analyze the biosimilar market, and evaluate perceptions and biosimilar awareness among prescribers, pharmacists, and patients. The purpose of the analysis is to provide recommendations to biosimilars manufacturers on the fastest and most effective route to widespread adoption.
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The Babson MCFE team conducted extensive primary and secondary research on the topic, which included a survey of 348 US citizens. Of those surveyed, the distribution of consumers with and without medical industry experience* was relatively even. Regarding biosimilars, consumers’ primary concerns were efficacy, naming protocol, safety monitoring and producing standards.
The survey found that many individuals are not aware that other drug options exist. Sixty-eight percent (68%) have never heard of biosimilars—and one-third of those individuals had medical industry experience. Furthermore, unsurprisingly, 90 percent of respondents have never asked their doctors about alternatives to the biologic drugs that they currently take (Exhibit 1).
Participants were also asked to rate their likelihood of switching from a biologic to a biosimilar. The cost savings achieved from biosimilars played a major role in their decision-making process, raising respondents’ likelihood of switching from 27 to 50 percent. The greatest inhibitor appears to be the lack of information available on biosimilars (Exhibit 2).
This lack of information could be influencing consumer perception of biosimilar safety. Of the people likely to switch, 56 percent believe biosimilars are safe, and no one thought they were unsafe. Of the people that were unlikely to switch, only 17 percent consider biosimilars safe, while 22 percent consider them unsafe (Exhibit 3).
Medical professionals also seem to have reservations about biosimilars. When asked if they trust the safety of biosimilars, 43 percent were unsure; 59 percent of consumers were unsure (Exhibit 4). In comparison, 87 percent of medical professionals trusted the safety of generics.
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