Novartis' Sandoz boosts biosimilars awareness with new 'Act4Biosimilars' campaign

Novartis’ biosimilar and generics unit Sandoz wants to help boost use of biologic copycats by 30% worldwide by the end of the decade. To help get there, it's launching a new campaign focused on tackling several potential barriers to uptake.

The "Act4Biosimilars" push is angled as an initiative “to help address health inequity and inequality worldwide” by making biosims more approvable, accessible, acceptable and affordable—the 4 A’s of biosimilars, the company said in a statement.

On the ground, this means getting more biosimilars—which are very close copies of off-patent biologic drugs in cancer, autoimmune diseases and others—to a wider patient population. In fact, Sandoz has specific targets: The company wants to boost biosimilar uptake by at least 30% in more than 30 countries by 2030.

A “steering committee” of patient advocacy leaders, healthcare professionals, biosimilar experts and others is leading the effort. They come from academia, pharmacy and patient groups and include Professor Tore Kvien, head of the Department of Rheumatology at the University of Oslo, and Professor Michael Wiechmann, M.D., Ph.D., global head of medical affairs at Sandoz.

An accompanying website,, outlines 12 goals the group says will help reach the 30-by-30 ambition. These include ensuring equitable pricing, involving patients in treatment decisions and streamlining biosimilar development.

The Act4 campaign will track progress with its “Action Plan” with so-called Country Indicator Maps. And it's running parallel messaging efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Last year, Sandoz said it planned to launch six biosimilars across the U.S. and EU in the next few years. It has about 15 biosim programs in development internally or through partnerships.

Despite the fact that they're generally cheaper than their reference products, biosimilar uptake has been bumpy worldwide, with regulatory, manufacturing and legal scuffles frequently taking a bite out of uptake.

Meanwhile, some worry that biosims aren't as effective as their reference products, or as safe. Sandoz will hope to battle those concerns head-on with its new campaign.

“Misinformation on the safety, efficacy and science of biosimilars continues to cause confusion and impede uptake," Kvien said in a statement. "With the Act4Biosimilars Action Plan, we will prioritize the steps needed to help better educate, inform and create action across all countries and regions.”

Novartis owns the global generics and biosim group Sandoz, but it's reviewing strategic options for the business.

Last year, Sandoz in-licensed a copycat referencing Roche’s anti-VEGF drug Avastin from China’s Bio-Thera Solutions, and it's also working on late-stage development of a biosimilar to Regeneron’s top-selling VEGF inhibitor Eylea for eye diseases.

But its launch of a biosim version of Amgen’s TNF inhibitor Enbrel has been significantly delayed after legal defeats, showing the difficulties in of launching in the field.