Home / Biosimilars / Research

Research

Why are there suddenly ‘biosimilars’ besides ‘biologicals’?

“Isn’t everything already complicated enough?” asked Professor Theo Dingermann of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, at the Weekend Workshop ‘Patient and Pharmaceutical Care’ of the German Union of Pharmacists Societies (Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Apothekerverbände, ABDA) held on 17–18 October 2009 in Hannover, Germany.

Biologicals and biosimilars: how can we afford them?

Demand for biological drugs is putting pressure on health budgets. Medical student, Mr Christopher Kelly and Consultant Physician, Dr Fraz Mir of the University of Cambridge, UK, examine in the British Medical Journal of 19 September 2009 why they are so expensive and what can be done to increase access.

Why is “the process the product” for biosimilars?

“Why does the manufacturing process play such a prominent role in the definition of a biosimilar?” asked Professor Theo Dingermann of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, at the Weekend Workshop ‘Patient and Pharmaceutical Care’ of the German Union of Pharmacists Societies (Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Apothekerverbände, ABDA) held on 17–18 October 2009 in Hannover, Germany.

Dingermann: “Use biosimilars, but don’t force patients”

“Thanks to the stringent examinations of EMEA, patients can trust that approved biosimilars are effective and tolerable – a reassuring remark for those who are dependent on such medicines,” said Professor Theo Dingermann of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, at the Weekend Workshop ;Patient and Pharmaceutical Care’ of the German Union of Pharmacists Societies (Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Apothekerverbände, ABDA) held on 17–18 October 2009 in Hannover, Germany.

Quality, safety and efficacy of the epoetin alfa biosimilar Binocrit compared to Erypo/Eprex

A detailed checklist on the quality, safety and efficacy assessment of biopharmaceuticals was published by Professors Irene Krämer, Roger Tredree and Arnold Vulto in the 2008 EJHP Practice article Points to consider in the evaluation of biopharmaceuticals (Eur J Hosp Pharm Prac. 2008;14(1):73-6). The checklist was then used by Dr Carsten Brockmeyer and Dr Andreas Seidl of Sandoz/Hexal for Binocrit, the results of which were published in Eur J Hosp Pharm Prac. 2009;15(2):34-40.

Rejected biosimilars: the Alpheon case

On 28 June 2006 the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the EMEA recommended the refusal of marketing authorisation for Alpheon (interferon alfa-2a), which was intended for the treatment of adult patients with chronic hepatitis C in combination with the antiviral medicine ribavirin (except when patients could not take this).

Economic issues with follow-on protein products

The economic effects of the possible introduction of follow-on protein products have been the subject of recent debate. In a study by Mr Michael Lanthier, Ms Rachel Behrman and Mr Clark Nardinelli of the US FDA, it was aimed to explore the economic issues surrounding this debate using three measures: total sales, product complexity and patent expiry.

Biosimilars and biopharmaceuticals: the ERA-EDTA position

In a position paper by the European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA) Council in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation written by Adrian Covic of the Parhon University Hospital in Iasi, Romania – who received financial gratitude for congress participation, lectures and clinical trials from: Amgen, Affimax, F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Janssen-Cilag – and co-authors, it is stated that biosimilars may offer considerable advantages to hard-pressed healthcare economies, as the costs of providing effective therapies in a variety of new and existing disease areas increase progressively. However, a decision to permit their use clinically should be balanced by a clear mandate to ensure as with all biopharmaceutical agents, that patients, physicians and pharmacists truly understand the complex arguments and decisions which apply to this new and challenging area. In particular, pharmacovigilance is a responsibility that is shared between the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacists and physicians, with appropriately informed and educated patients. Ease of tracing and identification of new/substituted agents especially when dealing with patients who may be exposed to injected therapies for many years is a pivotal requirement and one where new input into nomenclature decisions and systems is now urgently needed. Any decision to employ biosimilar biopharmaceuticals should be taken with appropriate knowledge and understanding of this complex area by the primary responsible physician, after a careful appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages of taking this course of action, and with appropriate systems for pharmacovigilance in place.

What physicians need to know about biosimilars

Physicians should become aware of potential differences between biopharmaceuticals (biologicals) and their generic versions (called biosimilars in the EU and follow-on protein products in the US) that will soon enter the market, and that the impact on safety and efficacy is critical for patient safety. “Healthcare professionals need to understand the critical issues surrounding the use of biosimilars to make informed treatment decisions”, states Professor Huub Schellekens in Biosimilar therapeutics – what do we need to consider in NDT Plus. 2009;2(Suppl 1):i27-i36.

Key issues with biosimilars: impact on patient safety

The primary safety concern for biosimilar agents is their potential immunogenicity. Using biopharmaceuticals to replace endogenous proteins that may be present at insufficient concentrations carries the serious risk of stimulating the immune system to develop anti-product antibodies (Abs), which may cross-react with endogenous protein.