Is the EU ready for non-biological complex drug products?

The definition of non-biological complex drugs (NBCDs) is not officially recognized, and there is no corresponding term, in the European Union (EU) pharmaceutical legislation or scientific guidance. Despite this, authors Falk Ehmann and Ruben Pita argue in their personal capacity that the existing EU legislation and guidance is equipped to adequately assess the quality, safety and efficacy, as well as the lifecycle management, of such a group of medicinal products [1]. While agreeing with most of Ehmann and Pita, a number of experts from the Steering Committee members of the NBCD Working Group pointed out that there are still many unknowns when it comes to NBCDs [2].

Non-biological complex drugs and pharmacopoeias

Pharmacopoeias, as standard references for pharmaceutical drug specifications and reference standards in the form of monographs, play a pivotal role in assuring drug quality and safety. How such pharmacopoeias relate to non-biological complex drugs (NBCDs) was a subject discussed by Professor Gerrit Borchard in a GaBI Journal article [1].

In vitro analysis of follow-on versions of sevelamer

Authors from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published details of an evaluation of the in vitro efficacy of sevelamer hydrochloride and sevelamer carbonate [1]. The results from this analysis, say the authors, ‘will be useful in assisting with “in vivo” biowaiver for the approval of generic sevelamer drug products’.

Rigorous approach used to approve a follow-on version of glatiramer acetate

Despite the difficulties associated with evaluating follow-on versions of non-biological complex drugs (NBCDs), the rigorous approach used by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was able to establish the sameness of a follow-on glatiramer acetate (Glatopa) compared to Copaxone, according to researchers from Momenta Pharmaceuticals, the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Kantor Neurology [1].

Non-biological complex drugs and their follow-on versions

Since the first publication on non-biological complex drugs (NBCDs) appeared in 2011 this class of drug products has attracted growing interest and has resulted in the establishment of an Editorial Section on NBCDs in both the GaBI Journal and GaBI Online[1].

Switching between originator and follow-on iron-sucrose

Researchers from France describe and compare the haematological parameters and anaemia medications used in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients undergoing haemodialysis, before and after switching between the iron-sucrose originator and an iron-sucrose follow-on version [1].

Follow-on intravenous iron formulations in haemodialysis patients

A study into the efficiency of follow-on intravenous (IV) iron formulations compared to originator formulations in haemodialysis patients has shown the follow-on products to be less efficient at maintaining the same haemoglobin levels [1].

Follow-on glatiramer acetate (M356) claimed as equivalent to Copaxone

A multi-dimensional evaluation of the equivalence of a follow-on glatiramer acetate (M356) and the brand-name originator version (Copaxone) has been reported to show equivalence of biological and physicochemical properties, with no significant differences in the structure and function of the two products [1].