The British Biosimilars Association (BBA), has launched today (19 April) with the sole focus of increasing the understanding and use of biosimilar medicines in the UK.
As an expert sector group of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), the BBA will work to give patients in the UK the same access to lifesaving and life changing biosimilar medicines as elswhere in Europe. Currently, the UK lags behind some European countries in the take-up of biosimilar medicines. Restricting patient access to these medicines costs the NHS money that could be used for other treatments.
Biological medicines are protein based and made or derived from living organisms. They can be tailor made so they bind to specific targets in the body, which is not possible with conventional medicines. A biosimilar medicine is manufactured to be similar to an existing licensed “reference” biological medicine after expiry of its patent, with no meaningful differences in terms of quality, safety or efficacy.
Currently, there are seven biosimilar molecules on the market in the UK but this is set to increase due to various factors including patent expiries, increasing clinical awareness and supportive guidance from NICE.
Keith Ridge, NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “We very much welcome the creation of the British Biosimilars Association with its clear focus on providing information about these vitally important medicines. Biosimilar medicines have enormous potential to deliver increased patient access as well as savings to the NHS which can be reinvested elsewhere.
"It is important that clinicians are aware of their potential and that wherever appropriate biosimilar competition is encouraged. We look forward to continuing to work with the BBA and its members to that end.”