Monitoring the transition of patients on biologics in rheumatoid arthritis: Consensus guidance for pharmacists

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Consensus, Algorithms, Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals, Janus Kinase Inhibitors, Drug Substitution, Antirheumatic Agents, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Nocebo Effect, Pharmacists, Rheumatologists, Clinical Competence, Group Processes, Canada


Background: Recent approvals for novel agents such as the small molecule Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi), combined with the advent of biosimilars has widened the gamut of available therapeutic options in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This combined with the introduction of mandatory non- medical switches to biosimilars in some jurisdictions by both public and private payors has led to a significant increase in the volume of therapeutic changes for patients. Pharmacists are well positioned to ensure effective and safe transitions, however there is a significant unmet need for objective and subjective clinical guidance around therapy as well disease state monitoring in RA that facilitates best practices throughout the patient journey.

Objective: In this paper we aim to create a consensus derived monitoring algorithm for pharmacists to facilitate best practices throughout therapeutic transitions from originator biologic to other originator biologics, biosimilars, and Janus kinase inhibitors in RA.

Methods: The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) was used to understand if consensus could be found among the participants. Clinically relevant questions were developed to capture solutions to the identified unmet need. The faculty considered the questions as individuals, and privately generated answers/ideas. After discussion and consideration, the participants ranked the ideas and established a consensus.

Results: Based on the outcome of the consensus discussions, an algorithm was created to help guide pharmacists through therapeutic transitions in RA. The tool covers important topics such as pre-transition considerations, avoiding the nocebo effect for biosimilars, specific considerations for each drug or class, monitoring efficacy, and when to refer.

Conclusions: New classes of anti-rheumatic drugs including JAKi, along with the introduction of biosimilars are presenting more opportunity for therapeutic changes and monitoring in patients with RA. We hope our evidence-based consensus derived guidance tool will assist frontline pharmacists in supporting their patients to a successful therapeutic transition in RA.


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