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Key issues with biosimilars: manufacturing impacts

The first generation biopharmaceuticals are copies of endogenous human proteins, such as erythropoietin, insulin, growth hormones and cytokines, developed using recombinant DNA technology or hybridoma techniques. These compounds have revolutionised the treatment of many diseases, including anaemia, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis and multiple sclerosis. With expiring patents the market opens to biosimilar versions of these products.

Biosimilars: it is not as simple as cost alone

Biosimilars or follow-on biologics (FOBs) are biopharmaceuticals that, unlike small molecule generic products, are copies of larger, much more complex proteins. As such, data generated from one biopharmaceutical cannot be extrapolated to another. Unlike small molecule generics, FOBs require a full developmental programme, albeit smaller than for an originator product. This has been recognized by European regulatory authorities and it is becoming clear that accelerated processes for FOB marketing approval are not feasible.

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