- Reference Number: HEY1029/2018
- Departments: Pharmacy
- Last Updated: 12 November 2018
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This leaflet offers more information about your medicines for your medical conditions and our plans to switch your treatment over from Humira to the Adalimumab biosimilar. If you have any further questions or concerns after reading this leaflet, please speak to your doctor or the nurses at the Rheumatology, Dermatology or Gastroenterology Departments.
What are biological medicines (biologics)?
Biologics are drugs that mimic or block natural chemicals in your body. They are manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry in a complex process which involves producing the molecule and then purifying and cleaning it. Adalimumab works by stopping the naturally occurring chemical, called TNF, from binding to cells that cause inflammation.
Biologics are extensively used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, axial spondyloarthropathy, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
What is a biosimilar?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined a biosimilar as a drug that is similar in terms of quality, safety and efficacy (effectiveness) to the original licensed product. This means that biosimilars are allowed to have small structural differences from the original licensed product (Humira) but this must not alter how well the drug works, how safe it is, or how the drug reacts with the body’s immune system.
The process for manufacturing Humira, the original Adalimumab, has itself altered several times since it was first introduced resulting in a cleaner drug with fewer side effects. The Adalimumab biosimilar has been assessed against the last versions of Humira.
Biosimilars are regulated in a similar way to the original licensed product. The European Medicines Agency has approved the use of adalimumab biosimilar as it has been shown to be as safe and as effective as Humira.
Do biosimilars work as well?
There have been a number of research studies comparing how well biosimilars work and their safety. There appear to be no differences between the original biologics and the new biosimilars. Over the years, experience with biosimilars of other drugs has been acquired in this hospital and we have no new issues reported. We expect patients switching to a biosimilar to have the same response as if they had stayed on the original biologic. Unfortunately, all drugs may stop being effective at some point in time, but this is no more likely to happen with the new Adalimumab biosimilar than it is with Humira.
Are biosimilars safe?
Biosimilars have a similar safety profile to the original biologics. The regulator of new drugs, the European Medicines Agency, has declared biosimilar drugs safe and interchangeable with the original drugs. National Institute for Clinical Excellence and Care (NICE) has also supported this position.
Why am I receiving this leaflet?
You may be aware that the patent for Humira has expired and several biosimilars have been approved and are available to patients. Since the Adalimumab biosimilar offers cost savings and enables us to deliver care more effectively, we aim to gradually switch all patients currently using Humira over to the new Adalimumab biosimilar.
What does this mean for me?
As the new Adalimumab biosimilar and Humira contain the same active product (Adalimumab), treatment for your medical condition remains unchanged. You will receive the Adalimumab biosimilar from December onwards. No additional monitoring is needed.
What happens if I change to a biosimilar but I have side effects?
Please be assured that we would not be offering this alternative medicine unless we were completely confident that it was just as safe and effective as your current medication. When switching to a biosimilar it is not expected that there will be any issues. However if you do develop a side effect, you will be informed of the process which is in place to manage any complications and dealt with promptly.
If you have any further questions, please contact:
Rheumatology Nursing Team Advice Line (01482) 608779: Monday 11am – 3pm, Tuesday 8am – 10am, Wednesday 1pm – 4pm and Friday 9am – 11am
Dermatology Nursing Team: (01482) 623006
Gastroenterology Nursing Team: (01482) 608982
Additional services and information
NHS Choices: NHS Choices provides online information and guidance on all aspects of health and healthcare, to help you make decisions about your health.
NHS 111: You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones