21st August 2015.
The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) welcomes the recommendation by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to list biosimilar infliximab (Inflectra®) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). GBMA also welcomes the PBAC decision to recommend the marking as equivalent, also known as “a” flagging, of Inflectra with the reference product, Remicade®.
The PBAC is an independent expert body appointed by the Australian Government, whose members include doctors, health professionals, health economists and consumer representatives. Its primary role is to make recommendations to the Minister for Health on the government’s $10 billion annual PBS budget.
“PBS savings and improved patient access can only be realised if the use of biosimilars is supported by drivers to encourage uptake by doctors, pharmacists and patients. 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,” said 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. 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,”
“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,” she said.
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.