Cost factor gives biosimilar medicine edge in healthcare

Muscat, Feb 10 – With the financial burden on healthcare increasing, the trend is towards biosimilar medicine since it is less costly.
Maqbool al Balushi, pharmacist, Royal Hospital, said “Biosimilars are 30-40 per cent lower compared with the other products.” Speaking at the ninth Pharmaceutical Conference held in the Sultanate recently, he said when biosimilars are available, there is higher chance of medicine availability for a larger number of people who could be deprived due to lack of medication.
Biosimilar is a biological medicine similar to another already approved biological medicine (reference medicine). Biosimilars are approved according to same standards of pharmaceutical quality, safety and efficacy that apply to all biological medicines.
Al Balushi said biosimilar has been in the market for 15 to 20 years, “In the last five years, Royal Hospital has been using a couple of biosimilars.” “Biosimilars are basically biologic products, highly similar to biologics which are used in modifying the immune system of a disease. For example, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome — they have all got to do with our immune system and are called autoimmune diseases. Biologics can delay the progression of complications basically and this is called biosimilar,” he said.
Medications are a burden to the healthcare systems and biologics are considered expensive. The number of patients suffering from autoimmune diseases have also increased.
Jaabr al Abdulsalam, a pharmacist, was quick to point out that some people would doubt the efficacy of the medication.
“Biosimilar has the same efficacy and quality of treatment but costs less because companies that produce biosimilars are not the owners of the equation of medicine. They only produce a copy of the medicine that has the same efficacy and quality as well, but no side effects,” noted Al Abdulsalam.
Hilal al Harthy, a pharmacist in the government sector, said while there was up-to-date information and a variety of topics were covered at the conference, biosimilar medicine was of high importance.