Physician Views Poll Results – Substitutable, branded products to win in US oncology biosimilars space

If you are developing biosimilars for the US oncology market, a number of things to consider: is your product being designed to be substitutable with the originator brand (the FDA has yet to rule conclusively on how substitution will develop), and have you got prior experience of marketing products within the US oncology space?

Both of these factors will prove critical, according to results from FirstWord's latest Physician Views poll.

Asked whether they would prescribe a biosimilar antibody product deemed non-substitutable by the FDA (but which had demonstrated comparable efficacy to the originator brand), just 14 percent of respondents said that they would be extremely likely to prescribe it. By comparison, 32 percent of respondents said they would be extremely likely to prescribe a biosimilar that had been classified as substitutable by regulators.

Responses were based on a scale of 1 (not at all likely to prescribe it) to 7 (extremely likely to prescribe it). For biosimilars not approved as being substitutable, the average oncologist response was 4.3; for substitutable biosimilars, the average response increased to 5.7.

Brand awareness has been frequently cited as a likely key facet of the future antibody biosimilars market, and results from the poll further confirm this. Twenty-seven percent of respondents indicated that company or brand recognition would have minimal impact on their decision to prescribe a biosimilar. In contrast, 30 percent of oncologists would be more comfortable using a biosimilar antibody product manufactured or marketed by a leading branded/generic company, while 43 percent of respondents would gain extra comfort if that drugmaker had previous experience in the oncology space.

That said, biosimilars will find it challenging to displace entrenched biologic therapies in the oncology market. Asked what the most likely reason for dispensing a branded versus biologic therapy would be, the accumulation of post-marketing data for the branded product and familiarity with the branded product were both highlighted by 30 percent of respondents. A further 24 percent suggested that minimal price differential would make them favour the brand.

Along with substitutability (with potentially more information to be gleaned from the FDA in 2013), discounting of biosimilars versus originator brands remains a 'known unknown.' Nevertheless, oncologists expect to feel the heat; 43 percent said that they expect the availability of biosimilars to mean that insurance companies will make it significantly more difficult to dispense a branded equivalent.

Download poll results.

As always, FirstWord would very much like to receive your feedback and suggestions.

Note: FirstWord Polls are powered by MedePolls, a fast-turnaround service to conduct instant polls of up to five questions with guaranteed samples that include physicians from dozens of specialities and over 100 markets (for further information click here). To conduct this poll with a different audience, or an entirely different poll, contact us at

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