The NHS is being encouraged to prescribe cheaper biological copies of medications which could save up to £300 million a year, a report says.
This guidance would apply to people with diabetes that are on medication for which there are biosimilar drugs available.
NHS England’s new report, entitled ‘Commissioning framework for biological medicines’, aims to prescribe 90 per cent of new patients with the best value medication within three of the launch of a biosimilar medication. Additionally, the aim is to get 80 per cent of existing patients put onto the best value medication within 12 months of a new biosimilar being available.
Biosimilar medicines are copies of drugs no longer protected by a patent, including insulins. They are almost the exact chemical copy of the original and do not need to go through the extensive clinical trial process to be licensed.
Abasaglar is an example of a biosimilar medication and was the first biosimilar insulin to be available in the UK. Abasaglar has very similar chemical properties to insulin glargine (Lantus). A number of other diabetes drugs will have their patents expire soon which will mean there will be more biosimilar products in the pipeline.
The NHS England report says: “Such action will help the NHS to maximise the value for patients from the amount it spends on these medicines and enable much-needed headroom for funding innovative treatments and/or improvements in pathways of care.
“CCGs and providers must work together to develop plans for the quick and effective uptake of the best value biological medicine. Shared decision making between clinical prescribers and patients will be vital if the best value, clinically effective medicines are to be used.”
The move has been made in response to medication costs outlaid by the NHS rising, up eight per cent to £16.8 billion during 2015/16.
The report also states: “As the biosimilar market develops, increased competition between biological medicines has the potential to deliver significant savings of at least £200m to £300m per year by 2020/21 through increased uptake of the best value biologic medicine, including biosimilars.
“Regional Medicines Optimisation Committees will coordinate support and ensure plans are in place for the systematic uptake of biosimilar medicines by the end of 2017.”
Editor’s note: Medication costs keep rising for the NHS, but people with type 2 diabetes can come off medication by eating a healthy diet, as outlined in our award-winning Low Carb Program. As more people continue to eat real, natural foods and cut out processed foods, they can take back control of their health and may be able to rely less on drugs prescribed by the NHS.

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