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Merck launches biosimilars educational resource for patients

US pharma giant Merck (known as MSD outside the US and Canada) has launched an online resource intended to be used as an educational platform for patients, caregivers and the healthcare community.

Court rules in favour of Apotex in biosimilars dispute

Biosimilars specialist Apobiologix, which is part of the Apotex group, announced on 9 September 2016 that it had won its battle in the US against biologicals giant Amgen with respect to its filgrastim (Grastofil) and pegfilgrastim (Lapelga) biosimilars.

Biosimilars approved in Japan

Last update: 14 October 2016

In Japan, the regulatory body for the approval of medicines, including biologicals, is the Ministry for Health Labour and Welfare (MHLW).

Subsequent entry biologics approved in Canada

Last update: 7 October 2016 

In Canada, the regulatory body for the approval of biologicals is the Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate (BGTD) of the Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) of Health Canada.

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 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].

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