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Biosimilars in 2016: the highlights

Previous years have been momentous for the biosimilars industry and 2016 is no exception [1]. Important milestones achieved during 2016 were the biosimilar approvals of Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb), Erelzi (etanercept-szzs) and Amjevita (adalimumab-atto) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

EMA to launch pilot for tailored advice on biosimilars development

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on 16 December 2016 that it is planning to provide sponsors with tailored scientific advice on the development of biosimilars as part of a pilot programme that will be launched in February 2017.

EC publishes improved biosimilars information for patients

On 23 January 2017, the European Commission (EC) published a unique question and answer (Q&A) document for patients containing reliable information on biosimilar medicines.

European IBD specialists support switching to biosimilars

The European Crohn’s and Colitis Organization (ECCO) has published results of a consensus meeting held on 15 October 2016 in Vienna, Austria in which they support switching from reference infliximab to biosimilar infliximab [1].

European oncologists back biosimilars with position paper

On 16 January 2017, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) published a position paper on biosimilars saying that ‘biosimilars create opportunities for sustainable cancer care’ [1].

What happened in biosimilars during 2015

The past year has once again been a busy one for the biosimilars industry [1]. The most important milestone achieved during 2015 was the landmark decision made by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 6 March 2015 to approve Sandoz’s filgrastim biosimilar, Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz), for all five indications of the originator product (Neupogen). FDA is also reviewing applications for epoetin alfa, infliximab, etanercept filgrastim and pegfilgrastim biosimilars.

US$67 billion worth of biosimilar patents expiring before 2020

Last updated: 20 January 2014

Twelve biological products with global sales of more than US$67 billion will be exposed to biosimilar competition by 2020, with Enbrel (etanercept) whose US patent has been extended until 2028, scoring global sales of US$7.3 billion by December 2011; coming in second after Humira (adalimumab) with global sales of US$7.9 billion [1].

Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – December 2016

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is the body responsible for approval of biosimilars within the European Union (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.

Portuguese dermatologists’ position on the use of biosimilars in psoriasis

Biologicals have revolutionized the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, they impose a heavy burden on the healthcare system due to their high costs. In 2013, 27% of pharmaceutical sales were for biologicals. In 2015, two of the top five best-selling therapies were tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors, adalimumab and etanercept. Biosimilars, which may cost 25−30% less than the originator biological, thus represent a significant opportunity for savings to be made by both patients and healthcare systems.

Biosimilars of natalizumab

Natalizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the cell adhesion molecule α4-integrin. Natalizumab is believed to work by reducing the ability of inflammatory immune cells to attach to and pass through the cell layers lining the intestines and blood–brain barrier. Natalizumab is indicated for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (US and Europe) and Crohn’s disease (US).