Skip to content
Home » Biosimilars in Cancer Care: Ensuring Patient Empowerment and Accessibility

Biosimilars in Cancer Care: Ensuring Patient Empowerment and Accessibility

    Biosimilars in Oncology

    As the healthcare landscape evolves at an unprecedented pace, awareness and understanding become paramount for patients navigating various treatment and care options. Biologic cancer treatments have generated great interest in cancer care, as they harness the body’s innate abilities to combat cancer and are often employed as a recourse when other treatment options prove ineffective. Biologics can function in diverse ways, such as enhancing the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells, inhibiting specific proteins to halt cancer growth, and promoting the production of blood cells to replenish those depleted by other cancer treatments. Immunotherapy and some targeted therapy drugs are examples of biologics used in cancer treatment.

    Biologics are medicines made in a living system, such as yeast, bacteria, or animal cells. For some biologics, one or more biosimilars are available and in fact, are often seen as effective alternatives to biologic medicines.

    Biosimilars are complex medicines highly similar to another already approved biological medicine (the ‘reference medicine’). They contain active substances from a biological source, such as living cells or organisms (humans, animals, and microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast). A Biosimilar is to a biologic what a generic is to the original medicine. The application of biosimilars in cancer care has brought about substantial advancements in both treatment and supportive care for cancer patients. Moreover, making effective treatments more available to patients and cutting down on healthcare expenses remain the primary reasons behind the fast-paced growth of biosimilars.

    With increasing regulatory guidance biosimilars hold significant promise in expanding access to cancer treatment, improving patient outcomes, and alleviating the economic burden associated with biologic therapies.

    CPE’s advocacy work

    Despite the promising advancements in oncology care, it remains tragic that healthcare inequalities persist across Europe and that demographic characteristics can disproportionally affect so many people. While innovative treatments offer hope for improved outcomes, many still lack access to essential services and care. This bitter reality highlights the urgent need for collaboration among policymakers, civil society, industry stakeholders, and all concerned parties.

    CPE strives for the prioritisation of patient-centricity in healthcare decisions, ensuring that patients lead discussions about their treatment and cancer care. Representation isn’t enough though; patients must stand at the forefront, empowered to advocate for themselves when necessary. Similarly, patients must be informed and be presented with all the available options, especially as they are often switching between treatments.

    Dialogue is therefore key in overcoming barriers to healthcare access and coming up with tangible and sustainable solutions. If there’s one positive outcome from COVID-19, it’s that societies have become more resilient and receptive to dialogue.

    How can support be extended at European level?

    Every individual deserves the chance to benefit from healthcare advancements and it is an unacceptable reality that demographic characteristics still dictate healthcare access in 2024. It requires the collective effort of various stakeholders to achieve these goals effectively.

    Patient organisations and advocacy groups play a crucial role in empowering and amplifying the voices of those being part of marginalised communities. Given their unique insights and lived experiences, these groups can collaborate with stakeholders and co-create patient-centred long-term solutions.

    The pharmaceutical industry can contribute to increasing awareness and access to innovative treatments across Europe by engaging in educational initiatives for healthcare professionals and patients, collaborating with advocacy groups to raise awareness, investing in research and development to bring new treatments to market, and working with policymakers to ensure favourable regulations that facilitate access to innovative therapies. Additionally, the industry can support initiatives aimed at reducing barriers to access, such as affordability programs and patient assistance programs.

    Decision makers, on the other hand, must prioritise initiatives that promote equitable access to healthcare services, ensuring that no individual is left behind due to socioeconomic status or geographic location.

    Only through collaboration, concerted action, and meaningful dialogue, we can promote awareness, empower patients, and navigate the complexities of modern medicine. CPE will continue its efforts reshaping a future where healthcare is truly universal and equitable for all, regardless of where they reside.