Research focus: Policy for best-value biological medicine in Belgium

PhD project by Yannick Vandenplas (KULeuven)

EUPATI BE will start a new series of research focus article to bring more attention to research that is being done where the patient has a critical voice. This research focus article puts the focus on the PhD of Yannick Vandeplas (KULeuven). Yannick

Patient education and the role of patient associations about biosimilar medicines. 

Biological medicines or biologicals are large molecules that are produced by living organisms. During past decades, biological medicines have led to significant improvement in the treatment of diverse complex, life-threatening, and chronic disorders. Because of a complex development and manufacturing process, biological therapies come at a higher cost compared to traditional medicines. After loss of exclusivities, biosimilar medicines are allowed generate competition into the market. Biosimilars thereby reduce costs and potentially provide patients with more access to necessary treatments. 

One of the elements determining successful biosimilar adoption is the attitude and knowledge of patients about biosimilar medicines. Former research indicates that knowledge among patients is limited in European countries. In order to overcome existing knowledge gaps, it has been suggested that patient associations could play an important role in providing correct and unbiased information for patients. However, information is scattered and therefore educational efforts of European patient organizations regarding biosimilars will be bundled together. For this, patient-oriented information about biosimilars on public websites of European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and European International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO) members will be collected during this studyAs a result, an overview of tailormade information for patients about biosimilars will be obtained. In addition, a literature review will be performed in order to look at how information and communication towards patients about biosimilars can be ameliorated. This research project is supported by the Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (RIZIV/INAMI). 

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