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WHO proposal offers clarity for biosimilar nomenclature

Following requests from drug regulatory authorities worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a draft Biological Qualifier (BQ) proposal on which to base a globally recognized naming scheme for biological products, including biosimilars. According to the proposal, a four-letter code – the BQ – would be added after the INN.

Biosimilars of cetuximab

Cetuximab is a chimeric (mouse/human) monoclonal antibody. It inhibits epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and is used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck cancer.

Biosimilars of darbepoetin alfa

Darbepoetin alfa is a synthetic form of erythropoietin. It stimulates erythropoiesis (increases red blood cell levels) and is used to treat anaemia, commonly associated with chronic renal failure and cancer chemotherapy.

Biosimilars approved in Japan

Last update: 1 August 2014

In Japan, the regulatory body for the approval of medicines, including biologicals, is the Ministry for Health Labour and Welfare (MHLW).

32 organizations agree biosimilars should have same names

On 1 July 2014, 32 organizations signed a letter calling on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require biologicals and biosimilars to have the same International Nonproprietary Name (INN).

Biosimilars approved in Europe

Last update: 4 July 2014 

In the European Union (EU), a legal framework for approving biosimilars was established in 2003. This framework means that biosimilars can only be approved centrally via the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and not nationally.

ECCO position statement on biosimilars

The European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) is a non-profit association with the aim of improving the care of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Europe. The association currently includes 2,519 individual experts, 33 country members and 17 corporate members.

Biosimilars of etanercept

Etanercept is a biological drug that treats autoimmune diseases by inhibiting tumour necrosis factor (TNF); a soluble inflammatory cytokine. Etanercept is indicated for the treatment of rheumatoid, juvenile rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Biosimilars of epoetin alfa

Epoetin alfa is a human erythropoietin produced in cell culture using recombinant DNA technology. It stimulates erythropoiesis (increases red blood cell levels) and is used to treat anaemia, commonly associated with chronic renal failure and cancer chemotherapy.

‘Similar biologics’ approved and marketed in India

Last update: 20 June 2014

There have been established guidelines for approving generic versions of small molecule chemical drugs in India for some time already. However, no specific guidelines for ‘similar biologics’, as the Indian regulatory authorities call these products, have existed in India until recently. This has been the case despite the fact that the requirements for granting regulatory approval for such ‘similar biologics’ required more data than for a simple generic drug application [1].

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