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Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – 2013 Q2 Posted 05/07/2013

Last update: 15 October 2013 

The European Medicines Agency (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.

All medicines for human and animal use derived from biotechnology and other high-tech processes (including biosimilars) must be approved via the centralized EMA procedure. EMA has both general and product specific guidelines giving information on the requirements for biosimilar applications to EMA [1].

According to EMA’s list of applications for new human medicines under evaluation by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) released on 11 June 2013 the agency is reviewing five biosimilars applications. However, the agency announced on 27 June 2013 the approval of two infliximab biosimilars. EMA is therefore currently reviewing three applications for marketing approval in the EU for biosimilars. The applications include one for filgrastim, for which there are already biosimilars marketed in Europe [2]; and a new product, follitropin alfa, for which there are currently no biosimilars available on the European market, see Table 1.

Table 1: Biosimilars under review by EMA*

Common name

Therapeutic area

Number of applications

Originator product

Originator company

Filgrastim

Immunostimulant (cancer/neutropenia)

1

Neupogen

Amgen

Follitropin alfa

Sex hormones and modulators of the genital system (IVF treatment)

2

Gonal-F

Merck Serono

Total

 

3

 

 

*Data collected on 4 July 2013; IVF = in vitro fertilization
Source: EMA

The European patents for Gonal-F (follitropin alfa), a recombinant hormone used in the treatment of infertility, already expired in 2009 leaving the path clear for a biosimilar competitor, while US patents do not expire until 2015. The drug is a major seller for Merck Serono, which posted worldwide sales for the second quarter of 2012 of US$161 million, representing growth of 17.7%.

The positive opinion reached by EMA’s CHMP on 27 June 2013 for the two infliximab biosimilars – Inflectra and Remsima from Hospira and Celltrion – was a landmark decision, proving that the biosimilar concept can be successfully applied to such complex molecules as monoclonal antibodies [3]. The drug is a biosimilar of Johnson & Johnson’s rheumatoid arthritis blockbuster Remicade (infliximab). The patents for Remicade will expire in Europe in 2014 and in the US in 2018 [4].

Celltrion has also gained approval for Remsima from the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS, formerly the Korea Food and Drug Administration) [5]. Johnson & Johnson reported 2010 sales of US$8 billion for Remicade, making it a lucrative target.

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Biosimilars applications under review by EMA – 2013 Q1

References

1.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. EU guidelines for biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 Jul 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Guidelines/EU-guidelines-for-biosimilars

2.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biosimilars approved in Europe [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 Jul 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/Biosimilars-approved-in-Europe

3.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. EMA approves first monoclonal antibody biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 Jul 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/EMA-approves-first-monoclonal-antibody-biosimilars

4.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. US$67 billion worth of biosimilar patents expiring before 2020 [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 Jul 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/US-67-billion-worth-of-biosimilar-patents-expiring-before-2020

5.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biosimilar monoclonal antibody approved in Korea [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 Jul 5]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Biosimilar-monoclonal-antibody-approved-in-Korea

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Source: EMA

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