Often, health care topics are raised and debated in limited venues, to limited audiences, such as at educational meetings of professional associations and societies. At these meetings, important issues are raised but shared with other key groups. Too infrequently are these issues actively discussed among different stakeholders. One example of reaching across the aisle was the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s Partnership Forum on Biosimilars, held June 2015 (before any biosimilars were actually marketed and after only Zarxio® was approved).
I jumped into the fray myself, back in April 2015, to develop a consensus conference on biosimilars, hoping to hold the meeting this past March. My intrepid colleagues and I recognized the value of bringing different stakeholder groups together, in a closed meeting, and hashing out some of the more daunting issues—at that time, nomenclature, contracting, and interchangeability topped the list. For the most part, the individual stakeholders were ready, but financial backing for such a venture did not yet exist from the principal source of funding—pharmaceutical industry. They recognized the importance of such a conference. Perhaps, the idea of attaining a “consensus” in biosimilars seemed like too much of a reach. Perhaps, their budgets could not support it, but the meeting was not to be.
Another attempt to carry this concept forward, was launched in June 2016. The result is the Biosimilar Multistakeholder Summit, again a closed-meeting concept, which was held November 30–December 2 in San Diego. Whereas I was part of the effort, the crucial role in operationalizing this effort belonged to StrategiX . At this meeting, we brought together the following stakeholders:
- Group purchasing organization
- Patient advocacy
- Pharmacy benefit manager
- Specialty pharmacy
The ultimate output of this conference will be a whitepaper that outlines the issues and potential solutions—with advancing uptake of biosimilars and learning from the European experience being among the most prominent discussed. In subsequent posts, I’ll describe the tone of the discussions and several of the debates that helped or hampered how far we can move the needle towards acceptance of biosimilars and improve access.
However, perhaps the most important point is that it will take much more cross-stakeholder pollination to get substantial consensus on the steps that we need to take to both advance the industry and preserve it for the benefit of patients and the health system alike.