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EC publishes biosimilar Q&A document for patients in 23 languages

On 29 November 2017 the European Commission (EC) published a patient-focused Questions and Answers (Q&A) document on biosimilar medicines aimed at patients and the general public.

Biosimilars of palivizumab

Palivizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody. It targets the fusion protein of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) inhibiting its entry into the cell and thereby preventing infection. Palivizumab is therefore used in the prevention of RSV infections.

UK launches campaign to promote research on biosimilars

A new campaign launched by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) aims to unlock the potential benefits of biosimilars in the National Health Service (NHS) through clinical trials.

Hospira to pay Amgen US$70 million for epoetin alfa patent infringement

US-based injectables specialist Hospira has been ordered to pay Biotech giant Amgen US$70 million in damages regarding a patent on Amgen’s anaemia blockbuster Epogen (epoetin alfa).

FDA launches educational campaign for biosimilars

In light of the increasing number of biosimilars becoming available in the US, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on 23 October 2017 the launch of its education campaign for biosimilars.

NHS England to increase biosimilar usage

On 12 September 2017, National Health Service (NHS) England released a ‘Commissioning framework for biological medicines (including biosimilar medicines)’. In this document, they make a series of recommendations with the aim of increasing both biological and biosimilar uptake. As a result of increased competition between biologicals, creating better value biological medicines and biosimilars, NHS England believes that it can make savings of GBP 200 − GBP 300 million a year by 2020/21 by increasing uptake of these better value biologicals.

Biosimilars of rituximab

Last update: 10 November 2017

Rituximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody against the protein CD20, which is primarily found on the surface of immune system B cells. Rituximab destroys B cells and is therefore used to treat diseases that are characterized by excessive number of B cells, overactive B cells or dysfunctional B cells. This includes many lymphomas, leukaemias, transplant rejection and autoimmune disorders.

Similar biotherapeutic products approved and marketed in Latin America

Last update: 10 November 2017

Regulation of similar biotherapeutic products in Latin America varies widely among different countries and many countries have yet to introduce guidance for biosimilars, Latin America is moving towards increasing standards of regulation for these products [1, 2].

Biosimilars of omalizumab

Last update: 3 November 2017

Omalizumab is a recombinant DNA-derived humanized IgG1k monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to free human immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the blood and interstitial fluid and to membrane-bound form of IgE (mIgE) on the surface of mIgE-expressing B lymphocytes [1]. Unlike an ordinary anti-IgE antibody, it does not bind to IgE that is already bound by the high affinity IgE receptor (FcεRI) on the surface of mast cells, basophils, and antigen-presenting dendritic cells. The originator product Novartis’s Xolair (omalizumab) is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe persistent asthma and chronic idiopathic urticaria despite antihistamine treatment.

Biosimilars of eculizumab

Last update: 20 October 2017

Eculizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that is a terminal complement inhibitor. It is used to treat people with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH), for whom it improves quality of life but does not appear to affect the risk of death. It is also indicated for the treatment of patients with atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) – a disease that primarily affects kidney function – to inhibit complement-mediated thrombotic microangiopathy.

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