Perception of Hematologists and Oncologists About Biosimilars: A Prospective Tunisian Study Based on a Survey

A study published in Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice suggests that hematologists and oncologists in Tunisia lack knowledge on biosimilars and require enhanced training programs from health authorities.

Biosimilar drugs have shifted the paradigm of the the global pharmaceutical market through enhanced access to health care services. The researchers of this study aimed to gauge awareness of biosimilars in Tunisia based on the knowledge and perceptions of doctors in order to “identify the problems related to these drugs and to propose solutions for improvement.”

In this study, researchers conducted a prospective, descriptive survey using a questionnaire that was disseminated to 150 oncologists and hematologists with different grades, from both public and private sectors and from differing regions. They obtained responses from 107 of those physicians (57% oncologists, 43% hematologists). The questions posed by the researchers focused on physicians’ general knowledge of biosimilars and their referenced biologic with regards to safety, quality, efficacy, and indication. They also explored the proportion of physicians who are favorable to the policy encouraging biosimilar use.

The results suggest that approximately one in five physicians defined biosimilar as a chemical drug while about 29% could not discern between a biosimilar and a generic. Moreover, 68% of respondents believe that a biosimilar can have all the indications of its reference following complementary clinical studies, and 68.2% support the policy encouraging these drugs. Furthermore, the results showed that only 3.7% of the physicians felt that they are well informed about biosimilars.

“Our results are comparable to other surveys described in the literature. However, this is the first study that targets oncologists and hematologists specifically,” the study authors wrote.

They concluded that their findings “showed a lack of information from oncologists and hematologists about biosimilars (in Tunisia). Thus, health authorities should carry out training programs on biosimilars and introduce clear and effective legislation in order to allow better access to health care services.”