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Biologics are a special kind of medication used to treat certain conditions. They usually cost a lot and aren’t always available at your pharmacy or covered by your insurance plan. For these and other reasons, medications that are highly similar to biologics are being made. They are called biosimilars.
It’s common to think of biosimilars as generic biologics, but that isn’t exactly right. Both biosimilars and generics are versions of the reference product. Both usually cost less than the reference product. Both must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Biologics and biosimilars go through strict testing by the FDA. Biosimilars are not generics. There are important differences.
A generic medication is made with the same active ingredients as the reference product. Generics are approved by the FDA, but they do not go through strict testing like biologics and biosimilars. Generics are also easy to make. It’s like following the same recipe. A generic works the same way as its reference product.
Biosimilars aren’t exactly the same as their biologic. They are ‘highly similar’ versions of the reference biologic and have no clinically meaningful difference as compared to the reference biologic. Biosimilars work the same way and are as safe as the biologic.
If your doctor prescribes a biosimilar for you, you can be confident that it will work just like the biologic would. If you are already taking a biologic and it’s working, your doctor might recommend that you change to a biosimilar, especially if it costs less. The biosimilar may be easier to get at your pharmacy or covered by your insurance.
Sometimes insurance companies may decide that they will only cover a biosimilar. Your pharmacist can help you understand which medications are covered under your insurance.
Is a biosimilar right for you?
You and your doctor will decide what treatment is best for you. As with any medication, you need to know how it’s expected to work for you, what possible risks or side effects are, and how and when you need to take the medication.
Three important questions to ask are:
- What are the benefits of starting or changing to a biosimilar?
- What are the risks of starting or changing to a biosimilar?
- Will my insurance cover it? If yes, how much will they cover?
CVS Specialty® can help you stay on track and manage side effects. Our goal is to help you get the best outcomes from your treatment plan. Call us at 1-800-237-2767 to speak to a pharmacist or nurse specially trained in caring for complex conditions and rare diseases.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.
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