Glenn Haugeberg, MD, PhD: Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium

February 12, 2021
Lana Dykes

Rheumatology Network sat down for an interview with Glenn Haugeberg, MD, PhD, from Sørlandet Hospital, in Norway, to discuss his presentations for the Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium. He will be presenting his findings on Biosimilars: Review and Real-World Experience and Osteoimmunology: Osteoporosis and Beyond.

Rheumatology Network sat down for an interview with Glenn Haugeberg, MD, PhD, from Sørlandet Hospital, in Norway, to discuss his presentations for the Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium (RWCS). He will be presenting his findings on Biosimilars: Review and Real-World Experience and Osteoimmunology: Osteoporosis and Beyond.

Haugeberg lives in a country, where the use of biosimilars is much more prevalent than in the United States. The main reason rheumatologists use biosimilars in European countries, like Denmark and Norway, is to “try to reduce costs for these costly drugs…When a reference drug is reaching the market, it has been through a huge process. There are a lot of clinical studies just to prove that it works for the different indications. But when it comes to the development of biosimilar drugs, it's completely opposite. There, you are looking at tests, where you just want to prove that the molecule is similar in a lot of ways…Then you test it in a randomized control trial, only one for one of the indications of the reference drug or the originator.” If the trial shows equivalence, then the FDA and AMA can conclude that the more cost-effective biosimilar is the same regarding effectiveness, safety, and immunogenicity.

Haugeberg will be presenting data from Denmark to further demonstrate how much money biosimilars can save taxpayers money on prescriptions. His example is based on Humira versus the biosimilar, adalimumab. He explains, “in a couple of months, they had a reduction of costs of 85%. In Scandinavian countries, we have a public-funded healthcare system, and it is taxed-based…Taxpayers would save 85%. And that's huge.”

In addition to biosimilars, Haugeberg will be discussing osteoimmunology and the role rheumatoid arthritis plays in increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis. “The interesting thing for rheumatoid arthritis is that the development of osteoporosis in rheumatoid arthritis patients is not only dependent on the risk factors, but the inflammation in itself is also that driver of the osteoclast activity. It's like gasoline fuels the fire…The osteoclast then drives the bone damaging process,” he explains. “So, what we as rheumatologists should be aware of when we are treating a patient with active inflammatory disorder is by suppressing the inflammation (and not only suppressing the inflammation for reducing pain and fatigue and that kind of thing), we also reduce inflammation to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and getting an increased risk of fractures.”

To conclude, Haugeberg reflects on his time studying rheumatology. “I have been on a wonderful journey seeing how medicine and drugs have improved a patient's life. And when it comes to, for instance, treatment of inflammatory joint disorders, it has been a fantastic journey. And we are still pushing forward. We are getting even more patients in remission or low disease activity status,” he explains. “And for osteoporosis, we now have more options, which is fascinating…I think all these drugs will do a lot of good, they have [already] done a lot of good, and they will do a lot of good. The future is bright.”