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General

Biosimilars approved in the US

Last update: 30 September 2016

In the US, a legal framework for approving biosimilars was established in 2009, via the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCI Act).

Biosimilar User Fee Act reauthorization

On 16 September 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the Biosimilar User Fee Act II (BsUFA II) performance goals letter, attracting support from industry associations.

Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – August 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 of rituximab

Last update: 9 September 2016

Rituximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody against the protein CD20, which is primarily found on the surface of immune system B cells. Rituximab destroys B cells and is therefore used to treat diseases that are characterized by excessive number of B cells, overactive B cells or dysfunctional B cells. This includes many lymphomas, leukaemias, transplant rejection and autoimmune disorders.

Biosimilars of basiliximab

Basiliximab is a chimeric mouse-human monoclonal antibody to the α chain (CD25) of the IL-2 receptor of T cells. It is an immunosuppresant agent used to prevent immediate transplant rejection in people who are receiving kidney transplants, in combination with other agents.

WHO naming of biosimilars

The World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed a system of naming for biosimilars, which has been commended by some groups [1], but criticized by others.

Biosimilars of omalizumab

Omalizumab is a recombinant DNA-derived humanized IgG1k monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to free human immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the blood and interstitial fluid and to membrane-bound form of IgE (mIgE) on the surface of mIgE-expressing B lymphocytes [1]. Unlike an ordinary anti-IgE antibody, it does not bind to IgE that is already bound by the high affinity IgE receptor (FcεRI) on the surface of mast cells, basophils, and antigen-presenting dendritic cells. The originator product Novartis’s Xolair (omalizumab) is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe persistent asthma and chronic idiopathic urticaria despite antihistamine treatment.

‘Similar biologics’ approved and marketed in India

Last update: 19 August 2016

There have been established guidelines for approving generic versions of small molecule chemical drugs in India for some time already. However, no specific guidelines for ‘similar biologics’, as the Indian regulatory authorities call these products, have existed in India until recently. This has been the case despite the fact that the requirements for granting regulatory approval for such ‘similar biologics’ required more data than for a simple generic drug application [1].

Sandoz plans to launch five more biosimilars by 2020

Sandoz, the generics division of Novartis, has announced plans for five major global biosimilar launches by 2020.

Biosimilars of tocilizumab

Tocilizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R). It is an immunosuppressive drug used mainly for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a severe form of arthritis in children. In Japan, tocilizumab is also approved for the treatment of Castleman’s disease, a rare benign tumour of B cells.