5. Always consider health literacy, Ms. Batterman advises. You may think that patients will understand certain material presented when they actually don’t. “Several techniques, including ‘teach-back’ techniques, can be used to ascertain whether the patient has integrated the information and provides an opportunity to clarify key points,” she says.
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6. Don’t just hand them a brochure. “Written materials and pamphlets, while helpful references for patients, often go unread if offered as a replacement of a thorough, open discussion rather than as supplementary information,” Ms. Batterman says.
Vanessa Caceres is a medical writer in Bradenton, Fla.
- Rat AC, Fautrel B, Flipon E, et al. Factors associated with knowledge and safety skills of arthritis patients receiving biologics: A survey of 677 patients. Joint Bone Spine. 2016 May 26 [epub ahead of print].
Resources to Teach Biologics
Treatments; American College of Rheumatology (users can click on information about their specific biologic treatment)
Biologics Overview; Arthritis Foundation
About Biologics; Arthritis Foundation
Joint Decisions, Janssen Biotech
Take Time for 5, Janssen Biotech (a resource with Joint Decisions that reviews questions to ask regarding biologic treatment)
Biosimilars to Raise Unique Questions
The first FDA-approved biosimilar to become available in the U.S. is Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb), a biosimilar to Remicade (infliximab). Thus, patient awareness of biosimilar drugs is not commonplace yet. However, that will likely change in the future as more biosimilars are approved for use. “Patients are likely to start having questions about them just as rheumatologists started asking questions a few years ago in anticipation of their arrival,” Dr. Huston says. Patient questions that will likely arise about biosimilars—and possible answers—include:
What is a biosimilar?
Possible answer: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says, “A biosimilar product is a biological product that is approved based on a showing that it is highly similar to an FDA-approved biological product, known as a reference product, and has no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety and effectiveness from the reference product.”
Are biosimilars generic versions of biologics?
Possible answer: No, they are not the same. “Biosimilars are not generics, which are ‘replicas’ of the branded drug,” Dr. Field says.
Dr. Huston explains that biologics and biosimilars are large, complex molecules created in living systems. “Their effectiveness and safety are directly related to their three-dimensional structure, which can be altered by many factors in the manufacturing process,” he says. “It is, therefore, impossible to make an exact copy of a biologic drug, unlike the situation for traditional generics, which are much simpler from a chemistry perspective.”