Background and importance Biosimilars offer substantial savings to healthcare systems. In Ireland, however, prescriber hesitance remains an obstacle to their introduction.
In June 2013, biosimilar infliximab was licensed by the EMA. Despite being one of the first European countries with commercial availability, penetration of the Irish market was only 25% in April 2018.
In a Dublin acute hospital, a novel system for infliximab reimbursement exists across the primary and secondary care interface. This presented further challenges to implementing a biosimilar switch programme due to the lack of perceivable incentives for key stakeholders.
Aim and objectives This descriptive review outlines the development of a trans-interface gain sharing (TIGS) programme catalysing the introduction of biosimilar infliximab in an Irish acute hospital.
Material and methods Trans-interface engagement with key stakeholders began in 2017. Within the acute hospital, multiple impediments to biosimilar adoption were identified. In September 2018, the parameters of the TIGS programme were finalised, projecting cost saving for primary care and creating an income stream for secondary care, to be used for service development and enhancement. Achievement of procurement savings was the primary outcome of this study, with the impact of income generation within the acute hospital as secondary outcomes.
Results Within 12 months of commencing the TIGS programme, the percentage of patients on biosimilar infliximab increased from 25% to 95%.
Despite a 3.5% increase in infliximab usage, the procurement cost decreased by 45.4% (projected full year saving for 2019 of €859 372). To stimulate rapid uptake, the TIGS programme apportioned 80% of the savings to the acute hospital for at least the first 2 years.
These savings were invested in pharmacy and rheumatology frontline services and provided the budgetary headroom to support increased access to alternative biologic therapies in gastroenterology (51.6% growth in access to vedolizumab).
Conclusion and relevance In its first year, the TIGS programme stimulated successful introduction of biosimilar infliximab with projected procurement savings of almost €1m. The front loading of savings to frontline services will continue for a further 12–18 months, with recalibration of the gain share arrangement in 2021.
References and/or acknowledgements No conflict of interest.
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