Biosimilars & You": A Guide for Patients with Rheumatic Disease

What Is a Biosimilar?

September 12, 2023 | Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month


Hi! I’m Dr. Marcus Snow, a practicing rheumatologist and chair of the American College of Rheumatology’s Committee on Rheumatologic Care (CORC). In my practice, I’m always looking for additional tools to help treat my patients and I have seen firsthand how emerging clinical trends can transform day-to-day patient care.

One such trend is biosimilars, which you may have heard of in recent months or because they are being featured this month as part of ACR’s Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month: Biosimilars & You: A Guide for Patients with Rheumatic Disease.

So, what are biosimilars?

Biosimilars are medications that are near exact copies that work like an already-existing medication or product, called a biologic reference product. They’re a close match, but not identical. Picture this: two people have the same blueprints of a skyscraper and build based only on those blueprints. The finished buildings will be virtually the same but there may be some differences, such as door handles or paint colors - neither of which affect the functionality of the building.

Biosimilars go through a very rigorous review process before receiving final approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are approved if they’re shown to be just as safe and effective as the biologic they’re based upon. All biosimilars currently used in the U.S. have received FDA approval.

You may be wondering whether a biosimilar is a good option for you. That’s a decision left to you and your rheumatology healthcare provider, but here are some new rheumatologist-approved resources to help you learn even more about this new treatment option and help guide conversations with your provider:

Marcus Snow, MD

About the Author

Marcus Snow, MD

Marcus Snow, MD, is affiliated with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and serves as an assistant professor in the University of Nebraska Division of Rheumatology. As chair of the Committee on Rheumatologic Care, Dr. Snow is a leader in shaping ACR policy regarding the practice of rheumatology. Dr. Snow sees patients regularly; he has a passion for clinical care of rheumatologic disease and for improving patient access to care.

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