Recent debates have focused on the clinical trial requirements for biosimilar approval [1-4]. Further, the regulatory approval of biosimilars in the European Union (EU) has been changed, where in some instances and under certain conditions clinical trials to establish comparable efficacy have been excluded . Still, the regulatory recommendation for more complex molecules such as monoclonal antibodies is without exception to conduct clinical comparability trials .
It is at present unclear to what extent a further reduction of clinical comparability requirements would be acceptable, and therefore, Druedahl et al.  investigated the perceptions of industry and medicines agency regulators regarding the value, necessity and future developments of the European biosimilar clinical comparability trial requirements for establishing biosimilarity.
The study used qualitative interviews, in which the participating EU national medicines agency regulators and industry experts predicted that biosimilar clinical trial requirements for comparable efficacy would be further reduced in the near future. These predictions were based on, amongst others, the advancements in analytical testing of recombinant proteins and the knowledge generated from former biosimilar approvals.
Overall, the participants expressed scientific arguments for reducing the European biosimilar clinical trial requirements, which included that analytics and science were sufficiently developed and that clinical trials would be unethical if not scientifically justified. They said that the non-scientific consequences were that it would lower biosimilar development costs, making it attractive to develop biosimilars for more originator biologicals.
In general, the participants stated that scientific argument against reducing the European biosimilar clinical trial requirements was that it was necessary to conduct clinical trials to establish comparable efficacy and immunogenicity. They expressed that non-scientific consequences were that originator companies could become disincentivized if competition was introduced too easily and that physicians could become more reluctant to prescribe biosimilars.
Druedahl et al. concluded that there is a need for clarity on how to ensure adequate correlation between physicochemical data, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics studies and the drugs’ performance in the clinic, as well as how to continue sufficient immunogenicity assessment. It is, however, likely that the European biosimilar clinical trial requirements will change in the near future.
Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper have declared their funding and conflict of interest in the research paper .
Abstracted by Louise C Druedahl, MSc Pharm, PhD, Copenhagen Centre for Regulatory Science (CORS)/Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL), University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Readers interested to learn more about the data requirements to demonstrate biosimilarity in the EU are invited to visit www.gabi-journal.net to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:
Data requirements to demonstrate biosimilarity in the EU
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LATIN AMERICAN FORUM – Coming soon!
To further enhance the objectives of GaBI in sharing information and knowledge that ensure policies supportive of safe biosimilars use, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching a new section on GaBI Online and GaBI Journal, the ‘Latin American Forum’ (in Spanish) featuring the latest news and updates on research and developments in generic and biosimilar medicines in Latin America.
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LATIN AMERICAN FORUM – Próximamente!
Para fomentar los objetivos de GaBI sobre la difusión de información y conocimiento sobre las políticas de apoyo que garantizan el uso seguro de medicamentos biosimilares, nos complace anunciar el lanzamiento de una nueva sección en GaBI Online y GaBI Journal, el ‘Latin American Forum’ (en español), que presentará las últimas noticias y actualizaciones en investigación y desarrollo sobre medicamentos genéricos y biosimilares en Latinoamérica.
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Standardizing clinical trials for biosimilars
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3. Webster CJ, Wong AC, Woollett GR. An efficient development paradigm for biosimilars. BioDrugs. 2019;33(6):603-11.
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5. Druedahl LC, Kälvemark Sporrong S, van de Weert M, De Bruin ML, Hoogland H, Minssen T, et al. Evolving biosimilar clinical requirements: a qualitative interview study with industry experts and European National Medicines Agency regulators. BioDrugs. 2021;35(3):351-61.
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