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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 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.

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).

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.

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