New medicines and therapies to treat some of the most complicated diseases are available because of years of research and rigorous testing. That research and testing happens through a process called clinical trials, which ensure the new medicines are safe and effective for use in people.
You may not have heard of a new type of therapy sometimes used in breast cancer, called biosimilars. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers of biosimilars to prove they are biologically similar to existing ‘brand name’ cancer drugs and will provide patients with an outcome that is not meaningfully different from the brand name drug.
So why did researchers make biosimilars for drugs that we already have available?
Biosimilars have created more options for treating patients with breast cancer. This is especially important because people with breast cancer live everywhere. There are an estimated 3.8 million breast cancer survivors, women and men in treatment and those living with metastatic breast cancer in the US. They live in cities, in rural areas, on islands and on mountains, and getting patients the care needed can be difficult in some areas. The more tools we have to treat breast cancer , the better patients’ care and outcomes can be.
Just as important is that biosimilars are safe and effective to use. Patients who are prescribed biosimilars can be confident the biosimilar will have no meaningful difference from the name brand drug.
The only way we get new treatments for breast cancer is through research and clinical trials. Clinical trials have tested and evaluated dozens of cutting-edge treatments that are now the standard of care in cancer treatment and have saved the lives of millions of women and men. Because of these efforts, we have made significant progress in treating breast cancer. Additionally, clinical trials have given way to brand new treatments for some of the most aggressive and deadliest forms of breast cancer, often with few treatment options.
Therapies will continue to improve outcomes as researchers and doctors learn more about cancers – how they develop, how they evolve and how best to kill tumors. More and more biosimilars that are safe and effective will become available for patients.