Project Summary

Biosimilars are a new type of medicine, conceptually analogous to ‘generic’ versions of small-molecule chemical medicines, where the active components of generic medicines are identical to the original medicines. The complex and variable nature of manufacturing biologic medicines—where living cells/organisms are used to produce the active ingredients—means that a biosimilar is only highly similar to the originator medicine rather than an exact, chemical copy. While manufacturers of biosimilars must demonstrate that their product does not differ in a “clinically meaningful way” from the originator biologic medicine, prescriber and patient sentiments around biosimilars have been mixed. Due to their lower costs to government compared to originator medicines there is strong incentive to promote their adoption and use in the community. Since 2019, 11 biosimilars for 3 cancer medicines (rituximab, trastuzumab, bevacizumab) have become available and subsidised by the PBS in Australia. However, we do not have a good understanding as to whether these treatments are being initiated and—if so—how they are being used in routine care. 

Project Date

Jul 2022 - Dec 2024


Project Lead


Dr Alys Havard - UNSW Sydney

Prof Sallie Pearson - UNSW Sydney

Prof Nicole Pratt - University of South Australia

Dr Jodie Hillen - University of South Australia

Research Question

What is the uptake and place in treatment of PBS listed biosimilar medicines indicated for cancer treatment in Australia?  

Data Sources

PBS dispending records

Policy Implications

Biosimilars can cost up to 30% less than the brand name originator medicine. For expensive cancer medicines, such as the three discussed in this proposal, widespread adoption of biosimilars would result in substantial shifts in affordability of cancer therapy in Australia. This project will serve as a baseline from which to explore means of increasing the uptake of biosimilar medicines. 

End Users

  • Australian policy-makers 
  • Cancer clinicians.  


Stay tuned

This section will be updated throughout the project. Please return in the future to see the impact from this project.