InCrowd Survey: Nearly Half of US Physicians Say They Will Prescribe More Biosimilars

Lower patient costs remain a key driver across five specialties with significant biologic use; 17% believe biosimilars will become the norm in the next three years

BOSTON, MA March 3, 2016—In a new MicroSyndicated survey from InCrowd, targeted US biologics prescribers shared their perceptions regarding the onset of biosimilars—lower cost, similar yet not identical versions of already FDA-approved biologic drugs. Data suggests that, efficacy and safety considerations notwithstanding, US physician respondents are poised to embrace biosimilars as a potentially important way to reduce patient drug costs.

Nearly half of US doctors in five major specialty areas surveyed—physicians with significant biologics prescribing patterns—anticipate expanding their prescribing of biosimilars in the next three years, as biosimilar availability increases. Respondents ranked lower costs for patients as the chief way biosimilars could bring value to their patients. Reflecting practical considerations, one in four doctors said that payers and insurance firms ultimately will determine—if not mandate—their level of biosimilar prescribing over the next three years.

“If they are equally effective, and cheaper, it’s tough to see a downside,” said one dermatologist.

“Biosimilars will be cheaper. If the efficacy is there and the price is better, then why not?” said an oncologist.

17% of respondents felt biosimilars would become the norm or replace biologics in the next three years. Questions concerning pharmacy-level substitutions offered mixed results with:

  • Only two out of 10 stated they were likely to strictly prohibit pharmacy-level substitution of the originator biologic with biosimilars.
  • Compared to three out of 10 respondents who, conversely, said they would never prohibit substitutions, and four out of 10 that would treat substitutions on a case-by-case basis.

Other key findings:

  • Efficacy (89%) and safety (81%) outranked patient costs (71%) among the top important factors in determining whether health care professionals would prescribe biosimilars.
  • Discounts drove anticipated prescribing patterns. Assuming physicians had the choice between an FDA approved biosimilar and its originator biologic, 83% would prescribe a biosimilar if it were 25% cheaper—versus just 33% if it were 5% cheaper.
  • Physicians expect to prescribe biosimilars to a greater proportion of their treatment-naïve patients (49%)—those who have never tried any drug treatment—than to patients currently or previously treated with the originator biologics (30% and 38%, respectively).

“As the healthcare industry grapples with the best strategies to lower drug costs, the MicroSyndicated survey shows that while understandably prioritizing efficacy and safety first, physicians are on board with their use,” said Diane Hayes, Ph.D., president and co-founder of InCrowd. “The key will lie in how payers decide to reimburse for biosimilars and their biologic counterparts.”

InCrowd’s MicroSyndicated survey captured data from 150 US-based board-certified physicians in specialties where biologics prescribing is significant—including 30 each in dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, oncology, and rheumatology who each have been in practice between 3 and 39 years. Respondents were triple-verified, have personally treated patients with biologics therapies, and were familiar with biosimilars treatments. Physicians responded between February 4-5, 2016, to a six-minute microsurvey.

For more information regarding this biosimilars research or to receive a copy of the full report, please contact InCrowd.