Biosimilars—a biologic that is "similar" to another biologic drug that is already FDA approved—are becoming more common to prescribe to patients with various conditions. It is crucial for health care providers to keep abreast of the current information regarding biosimilars. To help educate oncology nurses on this emerging field, Eric Zack, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, AOCN®, BMTCN® and colleagues created an intervention including an overview of the history of biosimilars and information about the biosimilars used in oncology. In an interview with i3 Health, Mr. Zack shares insights on the topic of his panel presentation at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, California: biosimilars and the need for oncology nurses to keep updated on evolving data.
What led you to pursue research in biosimilars?
Eric Zack, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, AOCN®, BMTCN®: I was approached to write an article for the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing through a colleague, and biosimilars were new to me at the time. Then I started researching biosimilars, and knowing what I was asked to write, I saw that nurses would not be familiar with this at all. Biosimilars are new to the United States, so this is again a huge gap in the knowledge and a gap in the literature.
Patients are going to be a little unsure about biosimilars and nurses are in the forefront of patient care, and they can certainly advocate and explain things and use plain talk so patients will understand.
How would you educate patients on biosimilars?
Mr. Zack: Nurses need to educate themselves first, and there's a lot to learn. I'll point you to the FDA website because that's one of the best resources for information on biosimilars for nurses. The nomenclature alone is complicated. They use the generic name, and then there's a four-digit suffix after that identifies the agent as a biosimilar. Also, when the patient receives the drug, post marketing surveillance, that's how we can tie a side effect that wasn't known maybe beforehand to that medicine. In addition, we did the publication, podcasts, other conferences, and posters, trying to reach as many oncology nurses as possible. There are biosimilars for conditions other than cancer, so there's going to be a national deficit here in the United States about learning about biosimilars.
Is there anything else you'd like to add for oncology nurses regarding biosimilars?
Mr. Zack: There's a continual pipeline of biologics for biosimilars that will be able to come to market, so they just have to stay up to date with all the information. Any oncology nurse knows information changes rapidly, and practices change rapidly, and the practice changes to incorporate more of the new information.
About Eric Zack
Eric Zack, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, AOCN®, BMTCN® is a Charge/Staff Nurse at Rush University Medical Center and an Assistant Professor at Rush University. He is also a Leader at Schwartz Center Rounds.
Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker's own and do not necessarily represent the views of i3 Health.