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Asia Pacific countries: future demand for biosimilars

The prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis have been increasing globally, resulting in an ever-growing need for biologicals that are affordable and accessible in the Asia Pacific countries (APAC). Biosimilars are ‘similar’ versions of approved and authorized biological medicines that are already on the market. They typically sell at discounts ranging from 20% to 35% when compared to the reference product [1]. It is expected that introduction of biosimilars into the global markets will erode the total sales of biologicals by as much as 54% through 2022 [2]. Various regulatory bodies such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) actively regulate development and commercialization of biosimilars.

Biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars: regulatory challenges for global harmonization of GMP standards

A recent GaBI Journal [1] article by Sia et al. has explored biopharmaceutical good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards around the globe. The authors uncovered the challenges faced in attempting to achieve global harmonization of biopharmaceutical GMP standards.

Discontinuation following biosimilar switching in IBD patients

Medical management of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) has significantly improved since the introduction of biological therapies over the past 20 years. The adoption of biologicals in IBD care has led to an exponential increase in treatment-related costs, resulting in a huge economic impact. As the patents of older biologicals expire, the interest in marketing comparable versions of the reference products increases, enabling opportunities for the development of similar biological products. Biosimilars have the potential to expand access to biological therapies due to price competition and cost savings [1].

Global harmonization of GMP standards for biologicals

Biopharmaceuticals are complex as their active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is manufactured using living systems. In turn, this leads to complex manufacturing processes. A recent GaBI Journal [1] article by Sia et al. has investigated the good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards of various global regulatory authorities (RAs) and international organisations (IOs). It has revealed that we are well on the way to global harmonization of GMP standards that will help bring these products to more people across the globe.

A blueprint for biosimilar assessment without efficacy trials

Comparative efficacy trials have played an important role in biosimilarity assessments. However, with recent technological advances, their role is now being questioned. Research published in Drug Discovery Today [1] outlines the reasons why biosimilar assessments can now be carried out without these trials [2, 3]. It also lays out the requirements for prospective applications without efficacy trials.    

Copy biological approvals in China, compared to the US and EU

A review of copy biological approvals in China finds that 75% of approved monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) copy biologicals have been successfully commercialized in the country [1].

Rationale for biosimilar assessment without efficacy trials

An article published in Drug Discovery Today explores the necessity of the clinical efficacy trial in biosimilarity assessments [1].

Shared decision-making and the transition to biosimilars

Increasing healthcare cost are forcing health authorities to look for low-cost innovations to help bend the cost curve. Biosimilars, a biotherapeutic product which is similar in terms of quality, safety and efficacy to an already licensed reference biological, are such an innovation [1]. Because biosimilars are often offered at lower prices, their use has been promoted all across the world. The initiating of biosimilars in bio-naïve patients is already commonplace in many countries. However, the transitioning from originator biological to its biosimilar for non-medical reasons is still debated. Different strategies about how and when to transition are formulated and applied.

Role of efficacy trials in biosimilar assessments questioned

In recent years, the role of the comparative efficacy trial in biosimilar assessments has been brought into question. This is explored in a recent article published by Bielsky and colleagues [1].

Perceptions of biosimilars and switching in Arab rheumatologists

The introduction of biosimilars into the rheumatology field could lead to dramatic cost savings as has been observed in certain European countries. Their implementation and acquisition, however, is not the same across the world. Many rheumatologists have developed a negative perception toward biosimilars and the process of non-medical switching. As important stakeholders, their views and concerns need to be addressed to ensure an effective introduction of these therapeutic agents. Mohammed Omair and colleagues evaluated how Arab rheumatologists perceive biosimilars in view of understanding the manufacturing and approval process during the Arab League Against Rheumatism Conference (ArLAR) [1].

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