Assessing the perception and awareness of Maltese clinicians on biosimilars: where are we?

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Biotechnology is fast leading the way in the synthesis of biopharmaceutical drugs resulting in a pharmaceutical industry where the manufacturing and marketing of biologic drugs is becoming more and more prominent.[1-4] Moreoever, the increasing knowledge and understanding of the role of cytokines at cellular levels and translational medicine is fueling researchers to design biologic drugs intended for the management of chronic conditions.[5-7] Rheumatoid arthritis, can be used as a case-study where the licensing of biologic drugs has completely revolutionised the treatment paradigms leading to an increase in the quality of life of the patients, decreased morbidity and mortality in relation to the condition.[8-9] Biologic drugs are very effective and literature backs up their cost-effectiveness in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. [10-12] However, the complexity of the production line taking into account the manufacturing, distribution and storage of biologic drugs poses significant expenses which translate into high priced biologic medicines on the market. The price of biologic drugs puts an added constraint to national health sytems, policy makers and patient access schemes.[13] Therefore, the recent development of biosimilar drugs and their less costly price compared to the originator biologics, puts pressure on policymakers to choose biosimilars and presents challenges to prescribing clinicians, pharmacists and patients alike. [14-17]

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