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FDA and biosimilars: update on key themes

Since the existence of a legal pathway for biosimilars was made possible by the signing of the 2009 Biologics Price Competition and Innovation (BPCI) Act in 2010 by President Barack Obama, FDA has declared itself ‘open for business’ for biosimilars [1]. But what is the thinking of FDA and what should we expect from any guidance on biosimilars?

FDA and biosimilars: process update

Despite the fact that a legal pathway for the approval of biosimilars in the US has existed for more than a year, formal guidance has still not been issued by FDA. This has led many to question when, or even if, biosimilars will come onto the market in the US [1]. So what has FDA been doing in the meantime and how close are we to seeing some biosimilar guidance in the US?

Current status of biosimilar development

Widespread therapeutic use of biological pharmaceutical products appears to be inevitable. Nevertheless, the law governing approval of biosimilar products in the US is still not in place. The size of the biologicals market and impending patent expiries, however, are making approval of a practical pathway for biosimilars more urgent.

Market opportunities for biosimilars

Although growth in annual spending on medicines is set to reduce, there is still a huge market out there and spending on biosimilars is expected to increase in the coming years.

Enoxaparin biosimilar or not

A biosimilar of the low molecular weight heparin, enoxaparin, produced by Sandoz (Novartis’s generics division) was approved by the FDA on 23 July 2010. However, some question whether this was really a biosimilar or not.

Biobetters rather than biosimilars

‘Biobetters’, rather than biosimilars, are the next big opportunity for biopharm and contract research organisations (CROs) hoping to profit from patent expirations on biologicals, say experts.

The history of the US biosimilar regulatory pathway

The US, although it now has a legal pathway (with the approval of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act [BPCI Act], which was signed into law on 23 March 2010 by President Barack Obama), does not yet have a practical pathway with guidance defined by the FDA.

More debate over the exclusivity period for biological in the US

The debate over the length of exclusivity that biological drugs can enjoy before competition from biosimilars ensues seems set to be a long and complicated one. The latest group to join in the debate is the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

Questions over US biosimilars pathway in light of Teva’s BLA

Questions have arisen over whether the abbreviated pathway for approval of biosimilars in the US will ever be used. Many believe that biosimilars manufacturers will opt out of this pathway and use the normal route via a Biologic License Application (BLA). This is backed up by the fact that Teva’s biosimilar, Neutroval, was submitted to the FDA via the normal BLA route.

Global biosimilar market to grow to US$3.7 billion in 2015

According to a report by Datamonitor published on 23 February 2011 the global biosimilars market will grow from US$243 million in 2010 to US$3.7 billion in 2015.

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