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Challenges and opportunities in producing biosimilars

In a viewpoint article published in ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters [1], Dahodwala and Sharfstein discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by biopharmaceutical manufacturers in producing biosimilars, equivalent versions of therapeutic proteins, and the role of regulatory agencies, particularly the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in approving these compounds.

Bevacizumab improves survival in NSCLC patients

In what could be good news for recently approved bevacizumab biosimilar Mvasi, a study has shown that bevacizumab-containing regimens improve survival in advanced non-squamous non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

Adalimumab biosimilar ABP 501 shows similar efficacy, safety and immunogenicity

Biosimilars are defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a biological product that is ‘highly similar to’ an approved biological product (the ‘reference’ or ‘originator’ or ‘bio-originator’ product) and that has ‘no clinically meaningful differences’ in safety or effectiveness compared to the reference product.

Barriers to access to biosimilars

Barriers to the use of biosimilars include healthcare professional and patient opinions. But national and local guidelines, levels of funding and differing approaches to healthcare management can also influence access to biosimilars in different Member States of the European Union (EU), according to authors from the National Advisory Unit on Rehabilitation in Rheumatology and the Rheumatology Department of Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway [1].

Integrating biosimilars into clinical practice

According to authors from the National Advisory Unit on Rehabilitation in Rheumatology and the Rheumatology Department of Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway, key questions when it comes to biosimilars include interchangeability, switching and automatic substitution [1].

Biosimilars for rheumatic diseases

Biologicals have become central to the long-term management of many chronic diseases, including inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Biosimilars may help to fill an unmet need by improving patient access to effective biological treatments for chronic diseases. In light of these facts, authors from Norway reviewed biosimilars for rheumatic diseases [1].

Equivalence of rituximab biosimilar in rheumatoid arthritis

A network meta-analysis was used by researchers from Italy to ‘reinforce the clinical data available’ for the equivalence of the rituximab biosimilar CT‑P10 [1].

Positive phase III results for Pfizer’s trastuzumab biosimilar

Pharma giant Pfizer announced on 10 September 2017 positive results from the pivotal phase III study of its candidate trastuzumab biosimilar. Pfizer says that ‘data from the REFLECTIONS B327-02 study demonstrates equivalence in objective response rate (ORR) for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer’.

Comparable efficacy and safety observed in patients switched to biosimilar CT-P10

Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that targets the CD20 protein that is primarily found on B lymphocytes. Through depletion of CD20-positive B cells in the peripheral blood and bone marrow, rituximab is effective for treating some haematological malignancies and immune-mediated diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CT-P10 (Truxima) is a biosimilar of the rituximab reference product. It is the first biosimilar to receive market authorization from the European Medicines Agency and is approved in Europe for all indications for which RTX is licensed [1]. A phase I randomized controlled trial (RCT) in patients with RA demonstrated pharmacokinetic equivalence of CT-P10 and reference rituximab over 24 weeks of treatment [2], and comparable efficacy and safety of these two drugs has recently been demonstrated over an extended treatment duration from the same trial [3]. With biosimilars typically being less expensive than originator biologicals [4], it is of interest to know whether patients treated with an originator biological can be switched to a biosimilar to save healthcare costs and increase access without affecting treatment efficacy or safety. An open-label extension (OLE) study that enrolled patients who had completed the aforementioned phase I RCT has been published [5]. The study has demonstrated comparable efficacy and safety profiles in patients who switched from the reference rituximab to CT-P10 and those maintained on CT-P10 throughout treatment [5].

Positive phase III results for Amgen’s trastuzumab biosimilar

Biotech giant Amgen and partner Allergan announced on 9 September 2017 positive data from a phase III study of their trastuzumab biosimilar (ABP 980) compared to Herceptin (trastuzumab).

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