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EMA definitions of generics and biosimilars

Confusion surrounding terms used in the global field of generics and biosimilars is a recognised problem. The members of the Biosimilar Medicinal Products Working Party at EMA have recently expressed the need to propose a more precise definition for biosimilars due to problems arising from imprecise usage of the term in the scientific literature and elsewhere [1].

Biosimilars applications under review by EMA

Last update:  11 January 2013 

EMA is the body responsible for approval of biosimilars within the EU. A legal framework for approving biosimilars was established in 2003.  Approval of biosimilars is based on an abbreviated registration process, which allows biosimilars manufacturers to provide a reduced package of information compared to originator drugs, provided they can prove ‘similarity’ to the originator or ‘reference drug’.

Teva asks FDA to delay approval of Biogen’s MS drug

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (Teva) has petitioned FDA not to approve Biogen Idec’s (Biogen’s) investigational pill for treatment of multiple sclerosis, BG-12 (dimethyl fumarate), citing safety concerns.

EMA publishes revised biosimilar Q&A document for patients

On 27 September 2012 EMA published its revised Questions and Answers (Q&A) document on biosimilar medicines aimed at patients and the general public.

Naming and interchangeability of biosimilars raised in new survey

The contentious issues of naming and interchangeability of biosimilars in the US have been raised once again, as a result of a survey carried out by the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM). The survey, released on 13 September 2012, examined physician practices and perspectives with regard to identification and substitution of biosimilars. These remain issues that are as yet unresolved by FDA.

Also noted on biosimilars: 30 March 2012

Bioequivalence of biosimilar trastuzumab to Herceptin proven in phase I trial
Biopharmaceutical company Synthon announced on 22 March 2012 that all in vitro and in vivo studies conducted so far have shown the biosimilar behaviour of Synthon’s trastuzumab in comparison with the reference product, Herceptin. The outcome of the phase I clinical trial confirmed these results, showing bioequivalence of Synthon’s trastuzumab to Herceptin. Synthon confirmed that its biosimilar trastuzumab will now enter a confirmatory phase III clinical trial in breast cancer patients.

Source: Synthon

FDA urged to exclude plasma protein therapies from biosimilar pathway

FDA is being lobbied by patient and industry groups to exclude plasma protein therapies from its pathway for the approval of biosimilars. FDA has a mandate to create a new abbreviated process for the approval of biosimilars under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, which was part of the new healthcare reform law passed in March 2010 [1]. This potentially brings cheaper products to market sooner, and so increases the availability of affordable health care. However, it also means that manufacturers applying for approval for new biosimilars may be able to skip clinical testing if they can demonstrate sufficient similarity with reference products.

US supreme court ruling means biosimilars pathway safe

On 28 June 2012 the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of the bulk of the Affordable Care Act, meaning that the biosimilars pathway, which is part of the act, is now also safe.

US Supreme Court looks set to challenge Affordable Care Act

The United States Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the provision in the Affordable Care Act providing that individuals should take personal responsibility for paying for their health care by obtaining health insurance or pay a fine. The move could mean that the Supreme Court rejects the whole healthcare law, including the biosimilars pathway created by the healthcare reform.

Biosimilars approved and marketed in The Netherlands

Last updated: 1 June 2012

The Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) – College ter Beoordeling van Geneesmiddelen (CBG) – is responsible for the approval of marketing authorisation of medicinal products including biosimilars in The Netherlands.