Merck primes the market for its biosims with online effort targeting docs, patients

Merck building

Merck & Co.’s ($MRK) U.S. biosimilars are still in the clinic--but the pharma giant wants to prepare the ground for their arrival.

That's the idea behind Biosimilars Clarified, an educational website where patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals can “get the information they want and need about biosimilars in a clear, straightforward manner,” Merck spokesman Bob Consalvo told FiercePharma via email.

Getting the word out now will be important for scoring big sales down the line. Doctors could be an obstacle for biosimilars, experts say, because they can’t prescribe something they don’t understand or know about. And Merck sees that.

“There is a lot of information available about biosimilars and their regulatory pathway, but it some of it is very technical and complex,” Consalvo said. “Merck recognizes that there may be some questions, and some confusion about what biosimilars are, what they are not (generics), how they get approved, and how they differ from originator biologics.”

Merck isn’t relying solely on the new web effort to resolve that issue, though. It’s planning to reach its audiences through social media, journal advertisements, medical meetings and more.

If all goes according to plan, the market will be ready to welcome Merck’s biosims with open arms by the time they’re ready for launch. The New Jersey pharma giant--in partnership with Samsung Bioepis--has six late-stage candidates in the works for its home market, including copies of Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) anti-inflammatory med Remicade, Amgen ($AMGN) anti-TNF giant Enbrel and AbbVie ($ABBV) best-seller Humira.

Between now and then, though, Merck won’t be the only one working to get the word out. Tuesday, Pfizer ($PFE) announced it would stage an at-risk rollout of its FDA-approved Remicade knockoff late next month. 

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