Specialists seek more information for use in the treatment of patients diagnosed with retinal diseases
A recent survey found most retina specialists in the US and Europe are familiar with the use of anti-VEGF biosimilars but need more information to become comfortable with their use in treating retinal diseases, according to Baruch D. Kuppermann, MD, PhD.
Kuppermann discussed the survey during a presentation at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2022 Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The survey was distributed by the International Biosimilar Retina Study Group (made up of retina specialists), with the goal of assessing US and European retina specialists’ awareness of biosimilar intravitreal VEGF therapies. The 16-question online survey was sent via email, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn from December 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022.
Kuppermann explained that the survey addressed topics to facilitate a better understanding of the familiarity of retina specialists with this relatively new form of treatment in ophthalmology.
A total of 112 physicians (70% women; mean age, 44.7 years) responded to the survey, for a response rate of 56%. The specialists served in a range of professional capacities: 64.2% faculty, 18.75% private practitioners, and 16.9% retinal trainees. Fifty-five responders were in the US and 57 in Europe, Kuppermann reported.
The primary purpose of the survey was to assess physician familiarity with anti-VEGF biosimilars. The survey showed that approximately 55% of responders reported having a basic understanding of biosimilars, and about 35% reported that they understood the technology completely. The remaining responders reported “having heard” or “never having heard” the term biosimilar.
A question about incorporating biosimilars into clinical practice showed that nearly equal percentages could incorporate the treatments or would consider incorporation but needed more information before committing to that decision, that approximately 10% said no to incorporating biosimilars, and the rest would make the decision based on insurance reimbursements.
Kuppermann said the lower cost of biosimilar ranibizumab-eqrn (Cimerli; Coherus Biosciences, Inc) and reference drug ranibizumab (Lucentis; Genentech, Inc) would prompt approximately 30% of prescribing physicians to shift from off-label use of bevacizumab (Avastin; Genentech, Inc) to FDA-approved biosimilar ranibizumab-eqrn, whereas 10% would not be motivated by lower cost. Approximately 45% reported needing more scientific information and the real-world experience with biosimilars.
The safety of the technology was a major concern for 20%, a slight concern for 50%, and no concern at all for approximately 17%. Efficacy was a slight concern expressed by almost 60%, Kuppermann noted.
When analyzing by location, the US retina specialists had more concerns about efficacy and safety than their European counterparts—70% and 60%, respectively, vs approximately 42% and 39%, respectively. The US physicians were more comfortable using off-label bevacizumab.
The overarching message, concluded Kuppermann, was that US and European retina specialists needed more information about safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity before switching to biosimilars.