Biologics and Biosimilar Medicines
The purpose of this Health Facts is to help the reader learn about medicines called biologics and
What is a biologic medicine?
A medicine made from a living thing like a
human, animal, plant, or bacteria. They are
used to treat diseases like cancer,
rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel
disease, and anemia.
What is a reference medicine?
The first Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) approved form of a biologic
medicine. “Reference” in this case refers to
being the “first” of this type of medicine to
What is a biosimilar medicine?
A biologic medicine that is highly similar
(very much like) to a reference medicine i.e.,
an existing biologic medicine. The FDA
calls medicines biosimilars when a highly
similar biologic medicine is found to have
similar safety and similar effect on treating a
disease as the reference medicine.
How are biologic and biosimilar
A biosimilar medicine uses the same name
as the reference medicine and adds four
letters at the end of the reference product
name. The Brand name of the medicine is
completely different. For example,
What is the value of biosimilar
ξ Lowers drug prices
ξ Lowers healthcare costs
ξ Improves access to medicine
How do I know if a biosimilar is right for
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
See quiz on back page.
1. The FDA reviews how safe and effective biosimilar medicines are. (True or False)
2. A biosimilar medicine treats a disease in the same way as the reference medicine.
(True or False)
3. A reference medicine and biosimilar medicine have similar safety. (True or False)
4. My doctor and pharmacist can help me know if a biosimilar is right for me. (True or False)
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have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©8/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#8000.
Answers: 1(T), 2(T), 3(T), 4(T)