Explaining Biosimilar Medicines

Quick reference guide

Biosimilars are not the same as a generic medicine and as a pharmacist you will need to be aware of the guidance around the use of biosimilars in order to ensure their safe and effective use.

Recent advances in biotechnology have resulted in an increasing number of biological molecules and materials being used as medicines. This is a trend that is expected to continue, at least for the foreseeable future. A number of patents and periods of marketing exclusivity for biological medicines are expiring and biosimilar versions of the medicines are becoming more widely available e.g. insulin glargine. The introduction of biosimilars offer potential benefits in terms of cost savings for the NHS and increased access to treatments for patients.

Sections on this page

  • What is a biologic?
  • What is a biosimilar?
  • Why is a biosimilar medicine not a generic medicine?
  • Is it possible to switch between an originator biologic and a biosimilar?
  • How will a biosimilar be prescribed?
  • How are adverse drug reactions to biosimilars reported?
  • Size and complexity
  • Table showing examples of biologics and biosimilars
  • Dispensing biosimilars
  • Where to go for further information

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