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FDA Commissioner discusses challenges and opportunities for biosimilars

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its first biosimilar for cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) in September 2017 [1]. In light of this momentous event, FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb spoke to medical reporter Laurie MicGinely, at The Washington Post’s Chasing Cancer Summit, about the challenges faced by biosimilars and the future opportunities in the US.

Biocon withdraws EU applications for trastuzumab and pegfilgrastim biosimilars

India-based biologicals specialist Biocon announced on 16 August 2017 that it was withdrawing its European Union (EU) marketing applications for its trastuzumab and pegfilgrastim biosimilars.

Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – August 2017

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.

WHO launches consultation on prequalification of biosimilars

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in September 2017 that it would be launching its pilot project for prequalifying biosimilars in October 2017. The step is intended to make ‘some of the most expensive treatments for cancer more widely available in low- and middle-income countries’.

Australia’s TGA consults on naming of biologicals

Australia’s drug regulatory agency, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), announced on 28 July 2017 that it was opening a consultation on how to name biologicals.

Setback in Biocon/Mylan’s biosimilar programme after GMP inspection

Biocon/Mylan’s biosimilar programme has hit a stumbling block after failing an inspection by the French inspecting authority (L’Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé: ANSM).

UK investigation suggests Merck broke competition law

A provisional statement from the UK Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) says that Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) ran an anticompetitive discount scheme for anti-inflammatory drug Remicade (infliximab).

Recommendations to enhance transparency of biosimilar labels

On 6 June 2017, the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) announced that it had ‘developed recommendations for changes to the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) of biosimilars that would result in an enhanced level of transparency in the label’.

Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – April 2017

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.

WHO to launch prequalification programme for biosimilars

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 4 May 2017 that it would launch a pilot project for prequalifying biosimilars. This move says the organization, is a ‘step towards making some of the most expensive treatments for cancer more widely available in low- and middle-income countries’.