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Communication Needed to Improve Biosimilar Transition, Adherence

October 19, 2017

One-quarter of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis who switched from originator infliximab (Remicade) to biosimilar infliximab (CT-P13) stopped taking the biosimilar medication within 6 months, citing mainly subjective complaints.

Researchers published their findings online in Arthritis & Rheumatology (doi: 10.1002/art.40324).

The study involved 192 patients who agreed to transition to the biosimilar. Within 6 months, researchers reported, 24% of patients had discontinued the medication. Among them, 37 patients returned to originator infliximab, 7 patients switched to another biologic medication, and 3 patients did not take any biologic drug.

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Patients’ reasons for discontinuing CT-P13 centered on an increase in subjective tender joint count and global disease activity, as well as subjective adverse events.

Researchers reasoned a high rate of CT-P13 discontinuation after an open-label transition may be due to awareness of the medication change. Although biosimilar medications have no clinically meaningful differences from the originator biologic drug, awareness may create negative expectations about the transition, which then result in negative symptoms and incorrect causal attributions.

“As a result, communication between clinicians and patients seems to be the determining factor of the success of transitioning to a biosimilar in daily practice,” said lead author Lieke Tweehuysen, MD, of Sint Maartenskliniek in the Netherlands in a press release (October 18, 2017).

Jolynn Tumolo

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