By Laurie J. Rollins, Pharm.D. candidate, University of Georgia College of Pharmacy Class of 2016; and Anita Nayar Gallay, Pharm.D., Pediatric Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Georgia Regents Medical Center/Children’s Hospital of Georgia
Getting your child to take medicine when he or she is sick is no easy task. And trying to reverse a bad experience is even more difficult. Whether your child needs to take a short-term antibiotic for a bacterial infection or a drug therapy for something more serious over a longer period of time, it's important that the experience be a positive one. More
By Sandy Moreau, Pharm.D., BCPS, Clinical Pharmacist, Jersey City Medical Center, and Assistant Professor, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may wonder which prescription medicines are safe to take. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created new rules for drug manufacturers...More
By Chelsea M. Zavilla, B.S.P.S., School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh, and Sue Skledar, R.Ph., M.P.H., FASHP, clinical specialist, UPMC Health System Formulary Management and Drug Use Policy Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh
If you are one of the millions worldwide who experience seasonal allergies, the fall season can bring about real discomfort. Allergies occur when your body’s immune system reacts to an allergen, such as pollen, weeds, grass, dust, or pet dander. More
By Adam Trimble, Pharm.D., PGY-1 Pharmacy Resident at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, OH
Whenever you pick up a prescription medication, you may notice little stickers on the bottle that say “Take on an empty stomach” or “Take with food.” You may also find similar instructions on the nonprescription (over-the-counter) Drug Facts label as well. More
By Christopher Campbell, Pharm.D., PGY1 Resident, George Regents Medical Center, Augusta; and Christina E. DeRemer, Pharm.D., BCPS, Primary Care Clinical Pharmacist & Medicine Team Supervisor, Georgia Regents Health System
Does your family have a stockpile of prescription medications that you keep “just in case?” Have you ever used a prescription medication that was not meant for you? How often have you given someone else your medications?
Prescription medication is intended to be used under the direct care of a doctor who is responsible for...More
By Terri Albarano, M.S., Pharm.D., Clinical Marketing Manager, Specialty Pharmaceuticals/Nutrition, Baxter Healthcare, Round Lake, IL; and Sean McGonigle, Pharm.D., PGY2 Infectious Diseases Pharmacy Resident, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
Recent reports of measles outbreaks in California and a number of other states are a real cause for concern for parents, caregivers, individuals who have an impaired ability to fight disease, and healthcare providers. Any individual who is unvaccinated is at risk for contracting this highly contagious disease. Here is what you need to know about the measles virus and what you can do to prevent yourself or anyone in your family from catching it...More
New ‘Biosimilars’ May Help Reduce Medication Costs
You may have heard about a new kind of medicine on the market that may help reduce costs for patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first “biosimilar” medicine called Zarxio. Similar to the existing brand-name medication Neupogen, Zarxio boosts white blood cell counts in people who have cancer, helping them to fight infections. Zarxio is expected to cost less than Neupogen.
Much like a generic is similar to the brand-name drug, each biosimilar drug is similar to an already-approved biologic drug. Biologic drugs are developed through a complex process that utilizes sugars, proteins, cells, or tissues from humans, animals, or microorganisms. There are many biologics on the market, and they are used to treat several medical conditions.
Examples of commonly used biologics are adalimumab (Humira®) to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, epoetin (Epogen® or Procrit®) to increase red blood cell production in the body, and trastuzumab (Herceptin®) to treat breast cancer. Making medications from living cells is a very complicated process and requires a large investment of time and money. That’s why biologics can be expensive. The average daily cost for a biologic is $45 vs. a non-biologic medication at $2. Zarxio is currently being marketed at around $390 per dose.
Biosimilar drugs are very similar to, but are not exact copies of, the original biologic drug in the way the product in made. However, biosimilars produce equivalent clinical outcomes to that of the original biologic, and they cost less.
Biosimilars have been compared to generic drugs. However, there are several important differences between these types of medications. Generic medications are exact copies of the original drug product with the exact same active ingredient and name. Biosimilars, on the other hand, work the same way as the original biologic medication but are not exact copies of the original medication.
The FDA requires all biosimilar medications to be approved for safety and effectiveness. Current state laws require biosimilars to be specifically prescribed for you by a doctor or other healthcare prescriber. Some day, pharmacists may be allowed to switch prescriptions from a biologic to a biosimilar if it is cost-effective for the patient.
Although biosimilars are new to the United States, they have been offered to patients in Europe for almost a decade. Biosimilars have the potential to drive down drug costs, saving the healthcare system billions of dollars and providing lower cost treatment options for patients. Be on the lookout for new biosimilars in the near future.
Visit here to learn more about biosimilar medications.
By Ben Andrick, Pharm.D., PGY1 Pharmacy Resident, Georgia Regents Health System; and Samm Anderegg, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, Pharmacy Manager, Ambulatory Care & Oncology, Georgia Regents Health System