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Biosimilar infliximab now available – Important information for consumers - 4 December 2015
Are you on infliximab (Remicade®) for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis? If so, you should be aware that a new biosimilar brand of infliximab is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This version is marketed under the brand name Inflectra®
For more information see the Australian Government Department of Health Factsheet: Biosimilar Infliximab on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
It is important that you and your rheumatologist make an informed decision about which brand of infliximab you should receive (Remicade® or Inflectra®) and whether it is appropriate for you to switch from one brand to another. Talk to your rheumatologist to discuss which brand is right for you (see: Five steps to make sure you get the right medicine).
About Inflectra®and Remicade®
Inflectra® is a biosimilar of Remicade®. This means that it is a very similar, but not identical version of Remicade® (see: About biosimilar medicines).
Inflectra® is the first biosimilar medicine available for the treatment of inflammatory forms of arthritis in Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has determined that Inflectra® and Remicade® are similar in terms of quality, safety and effectiveness and can be used to treat the same conditions.
Studies also show that people receiving Remicade® who switch to Inflectra® continue to have comparable treatment results.
Substitution at the pharmacy level
Remicade® and Inflectra® may be substituted at the pharmacy level. This means that your pharmacist may offer you one brand of the medicine instead of the other, without going back to the prescribing doctor.
However, you can choose which brand you wish to receive. Talk to your rheumatologist to discuss which brand is right for you.
It is also important for you and your rheumatologist to keep track of which brand of infliximab you receive. This is because switching from Remicade® to Inflectra® has been shown to achieve comparable treatment results, but less is known about the impact of switching between these products many times.
1. Talk to your rheumatologist about your biologic medicine and whether a biosimilar is available and might be right for you.
2. Decide in consultation with your rheumatologist whether you should keep taking the same brand of biologic/biosimilar or whether you could consider substitution.
3. If you and your doctor both decide that you need to keep taking the same brand of biologic/biosimilar medicine, make sure your rheumatologist prescribes by brand and ticks the ‘Brand substitution not permitted’ box on your script. Tell your pharmacist that you want the medication that is on the script and that you do not authorise any substitution.
4. Keep a record of the medicine you are taking and advise your rheumatologist if there is any change in the brand you receive from the pharmacy or from your infusion clinic. An easy way to do this is to keep the packaging of the medicine or take a photograph and show it to your rheumatologist at your next consultation.
5. Keep informed about this issue by visiting www.arthritisaustralia.com.au
For more information visit:
Arthritis Australia December 2015