Biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs)


Biologicals are a type of medication called a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug or DMARD for short which may prevent the development of joint damage. DMARDs, including biologics, are different to medicines that simply block the pain or other symptoms you’re feeling. They work by blocking specific substances in the immune system.

Biological DMARDs (bDMARDs) can only be used if other DMARDs have not worked. DMARDs and bDMARDs are usually only prescribed by specialists. Regular blood tests are usually necessary to test the effectiveness of these medicines and to check for any unwanted side effects.  For more information on biological DMARDs see Things to consider when taking a biologic.

Use our medication search to find out more information about specific biological DMARDs that have been prescribed for you.


A biosimilar medication is a highly similar (but not identical) version of an original biological medication. There is no meaningful difference in its safety, quality and effectiveness compared to the original biological medications. All biosimilar medications must be approved by the TGA after analysis of data regarding their safety, quality, consistency and effectiveness.

Compared with the original biological medication, a biosimilar medication:

  • Provides the same treatment benefit
  • Has the same potential side effects
  • Has the same strength and dosage

Sometimes biological medications and their biosimilars use a different type of injection pen or syringe and you may need to learn to use a new type of device. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to understand any differences in the way you will use the medication.

Why are Biosimilar medications important?

The use of biosimilar medications can improve the health care for all Australians.

Biological medications are high-cost medications costing the federal government billions of dollars each year. Introducing biosimilar medications into the market (once the original biological medication goes off patent) increases market competition and drives down prices thereby making these life changing medicines more affordable and accessible for the benefit of Australian patients.

Biosimilar medications give patients access to more brand options and can reduce the risk of medication shortages.

Is it safe to take a Biosimilar medication if I started on a biological medication (bio-origninator) first?

Generally biosimilar medications can be used whether or not you have been treated with an original biological medication first. Always talk to your treating specialist about available treatment options including the risks and benefits of switching to a biosimilar medication.

Important medicine tips

  • Understand why you are taking the medicine and what the possible side effects are. Ask your pharmacist for the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet for your medicine.
  • Always read all medicine labels and take your medicines as directed. If you have any questions check with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Keep a personal record of all your medicines with you, including doses and allergies. This can be useful when you are talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines, including natural medicines, as some medicines cause problems if taken together.
  • Do not share your medicines with friends or relatives – the medicines you are taking may be harmful to them.