Newswise — ATLANTA – “Biosimilars: To Switch or Not to Switch?” will be the focus of this year’s Great Debate at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego. The debate is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 and will feature the perspectives of Dr. Jonathan Kay, Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, and Dr. Roy Fleischmann, Clinical Professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Daniel Furst, a member of the Annual Meeting Program Committee, explained that the committee chose the topic due to the large impact the emergence of biosimilars will have on rheumatologists and their patients.

“Their arrival will present both challenges and opportunities to practicing rheumatologists and understanding these drugs can change practice,” said Furst. “It’s a topic of great interest and a debate not to be missed.”

Attendees can expect to hear about the latest data available to support safety, efficacy and cost effectiveness of biosimilars compared to originator biologic, as well as the issues regarding immunogenicity and multiple switches between biosimilars in an individual patient.

“During the past year, the FDA has approved five biosimilar TNF inhibitors,” said Kay. “Now that several of these are marketed in the United States, rheumatologists have the opportunity to treat patients with these medications. It is important for healthcare professionals and patients to understand what biosimilars are and what they are not, so that appropriate treatment decisions can be made.”

Kay will present the “pro” argument on the usefulness of biosimilars for rheumatoid arthritis, while Fleischmann will present the “con” argument of why the research surrounding biosimilars has not provided enough evidence that switching can confidently be allowed.

“Although there are many countries where the uptake of biosimilars for the treatment of RA has been significant, there are multiple reasons why this has not yet been the case in the United States,” explained Fleischmann. “The reasons for this are multifactorial, including questions on long-term safety, efficacy and economic savings, all of which I plan to discuss.”

The debate will be located in Hall B1 at the San Diego Convention Center and is open to all attendees. An online program with details about the debate and other available sessions and events can be found on the ACR website, and meeting registration is open through Oct. 18.

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About the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting

The ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting is the premier meeting in rheumatology. With more than 450 sessions and thousands of abstracts, it offers a superior combination of basic science, clinical science, tech-med courses, career enhancement education and interactive discussions on improving patient care. For more information about the meeting, visit, or join the conversation on Twitter by following the official #ACR17 hashtag.

About the American College of Rheumatology

The American College of Rheumatology is an international medical society representing over 9,400 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to empower rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. For more information, visit