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What happened in biosimilars during 2015

The past year has once again been a busy one for the biosimilars industry [1]. The most important milestone achieved during 2015 was the landmark decision made by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 6 March 2015 to approve Sandoz’s filgrastim biosimilar, Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz), for all five indications of the originator product (Neupogen). FDA is also reviewing applications for epoetin alfa, infliximab, etanercept filgrastim and pegfilgrastim biosimilars.

US$67 billion worth of biosimilar patents expiring before 2020

Last updated: 20 January 2014

Twelve biological products with global sales of more than US$67 billion will be exposed to biosimilar competition by 2020, with Enbrel (etanercept) whose US patent has been extended until 2028, scoring global sales of US$7.3 billion by December 2011; coming in second after Humira (adalimumab) with global sales of US$7.9 billion [1].

Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – December 2016

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is the body responsible for approval of biosimilars within the European Union (EU). A legal framework for approving biosimilars was established in 2003. Approval of biosimilars is based on an abbreviated registration process, which allows biosimilars manufacturers to provide a reduced package of information compared to originator drugs, provided they can prove ‘similarity’ to the originator or reference drug.

Biosimilars approved in Australia

Last update: 13 January 2017

In Australia, the legal framework for approving medicines was established via the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

Biosimilars of infliximab

Last update: 6 January 2017

Infliximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody against tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). It is used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis.

Biosimilars approved in South Korea

Last update: 2 December 2016

In South Korea, the regulatory body for the approval of medicines, including biologicals and biosimilars, is the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), formerly the Korean Food and Drug Administration.

Portuguese dermatologists’ position on the use of biosimilars in psoriasis

Biologicals have revolutionized the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, they impose a heavy burden on the healthcare system due to their high costs. In 2013, 27% of pharmaceutical sales were for biologicals. In 2015, two of the top five best-selling therapies were tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors, adalimumab and etanercept. Biosimilars, which may cost 25−30% less than the originator biological, thus represent a significant opportunity for savings to be made by both patients and healthcare systems.

Biosimilars of filgrastim

Last update: 18 November 2016

Filgrastim is a granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). Filgrastim treatment can be used to stimulate the bone marrow to produce more neutrophils (white blood cells) to fight infection in patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Biosimilars of natalizumab

Natalizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the cell adhesion molecule α4-integrin. Natalizumab is believed to work by reducing the ability of inflammatory immune cells to attach to and pass through the cell layers lining the intestines and blood–brain barrier. Natalizumab is indicated for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (US and Europe) and Crohn’s disease (US).

WHO proposes provisional implementation of biological qualifier

The World Health Organization (WHO) first introduced the concept of a biological qualifier (BQ) for naming biologicals back in 2014. This was followed by a draft proposal on naming biologicals, including biosimilars [1]. This has now been followed by the proposal to proceed with a provisional implementation of the BQ scheme accompanied by a prospective impact study.

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