Perceptions About Biosimilar Medicines Among Belgian Patients in the Ambulatory Care

Yannick Vandenplas*, Liese Barbier, Steven Simoens, Philippe Van Wilder, Arnold G. Vulto, Isabelle Huys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background and objectives: Biosimilar medicines have been on the European market for 15 years. Despite the extensive and positive experience with biosimilars across Europe, their uptake remains limited in Belgium. One of the possible factors limiting uptake in clinical practice is the inadequate understanding and lack of trust in biosimilars among patients. This study aimed to assess the level of knowledge and perceptions about biosimilar medicines among Belgian patients in the ambulatory care. Methods: This study consisted of online questionnaires among Belgian patients in the ambulatory care (i.e., rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes mellitus type I and II). The results were collected between December 2020 and February 2021. The data were analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics. Results: In total, 657 patients across all disease areas of interest participated in this study. Only 38% of patients had heard of biosimilars before. Of those patients, most (58%) were aware that biosimilars are as safe and effective as their reference product. The vast majority of respondents (68%) would agree with transitioning to a biosimilar if their physician prescribed it, only 3% would never agree with a transition to a biosimilar. If a physician would propose to change their current originator biological therapy with its biosimilar, nearly all patients (95%) want their physician to explain the decision and inform them. For additional information about biosimilars, Belgian patients prefer brochures or folders (41%), or available resources on the internet (35%). Physicians were indicated as the preferred source of information (95%), followed by pharmacists (51%), academia (39%), and patient associations (35%). Most patients require information regarding the safety and efficacy (78%), price and reimbursement (64%), and the clinical development process (56%) of the biosimilar. Conclusion: Belgian patients require information about biosimilar medicines. However, most patients are open and positive towards transitioning their current biological therapy with its biosimilar if sufficiently supported by their healthcare providers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number789640
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is supported and funded by KU Leuven and the Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI).

Funding Information:
This article is based on the preparatory work of master students Manon De Marez, Mariline Vandijck, Laure Krikilion, and Axelle Vandijck. The authors would like to thank all five master students for their efforts. The authors also express their appreciation towards the Pharmaceutical Policy Department of NIHDI for their financial support in this research project. The authors would like to thank all participating Belgian patient associations for their support in this study: RA Liga, Reumanet, Psoriasis Liga Vlaanderen, Psoriasis Contact, CLAIR, Association Crohn-RCUH, CCV vzw, Diabetes Liga, Association du Diabète.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Vandenplas, Barbier, Simoens, Van Wilder, Vulto and Huys.


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