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BACKGROUND: The approval of the first biosimilar in the United States has placed increased pressure on the FDA to provide guidance on the naming convention that will be assigned to current and future biosimilars. The release of the FDA draft guidance on nonproprietary naming of biosimilars in August 2015 established a naming convention for all biologic products, including biosimilars. However, the draft guidance is nonbinding while the FDA continues to receive input from stakeholders, and it does not address the naming convention that will be used for products designated as interchangeable biologics.

OBJECTIVES: To (a) determine pharmacist perceptions of biosimilar naming conventions and their impact on confidence to dispense biosimilars and (b) measure the burden that is created by laws and regulations requiring pharmacists to complete postdispense notifications.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 781 members of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy and the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association was conducted using an online survey software program.

RESULTS: Participants reported preferring a biosimilar naming convention that uses a nonproprietary base with a designated suffix (48.1%), compared with the use of a nonproprietary base alone (26.3%), nonproprietary base plus a prefix (14.2%), or a unique brand name (11.4%). However, when participants were asked to report their confidence levels when dispensing a biosimilar in place of the reference biologic, more participants reported high levels of confidence when the products shared the same nonproprietary name (62.9%). A majority of participants (64.9%) reported perceptions of increased burden when required to provide a postdispense notification to prescribers when dispensing biosimilars.

CONCLUSIONS: According to the survey used in this study, pharmacists prefer the use of a naming convention for biosimilars that includes a nonproprietary proper name with a designated suffix; however, levels of confidence in substituting a biosimilar for the reference biologic are highest when products share the same nonproprietary name. In addition, the results of this study suggest that the naming convention and postdispense notification requirements may affect the willingness of some pharmacists to dispense interchangeable biologics. This effect will be minimized if interchangeable biologics share the same nonproprietary name as the reference biologics.


This article was originally published in Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy, volume 22, issue 8, in 2016. DOI: 10.18553/jmcp.2016.22.8.919


Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy



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