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What internists should know about biologicals and biosimilars

Authors from the IRCCS Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy discuss some of the most frequent concerns raised by internists about biosimilars [1].

Positive phase III results for adalimumab and trastuzumab biosimilars

Phase III studies of an adalimumab biosimilar from Momenta Pharmaceuticals (Momenta) and a trastuzumab biosimilar from Pfizer have, according to the companies, shown that the biosimilars are ‘equivalent’ compared to their respective originator biologicals.

Naming affects pharmacists’ perceptions and dispensing of biosimilars

A study of pharmacists, carried out jointly by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) and the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA), found that pharmacists had a preference for distinguishable names. However, the study also found that using the same names for interchangeable biologicals would make pharmacists more likely to dispense biosimilars [1].

Positive phase III results for Boehringer’s adalimumab biosimilar

Germany-based biologicals specialist Boehringer Ingelheim (Boehringer) announced on 26 October 2016 positive results from its pivotal phase III study of its candidate adalimumab biosimilar.

Positive phase III results for Celltrion’s rituximab biosimilar

Phase III studies of a rituximab biosimilar from Celltrion have, according to the company, shown that the biosimilar is ‘equivalent’ to Roche’s MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab).

Positive results for etanercept and bevacizumab biosimilars

A phase III study of an etanercept biosimilar from Sandoz and a phase I study of a bevacizumab biosimilar from Boehringer Ingelheim have, according to the companies, shown the biosimilars to be ‘bioequivalent’ (bevacizumab) or have ‘equivalent’ safety and efficacy (etanercept) compared to their respective originator biologicals.

Biosimilars help reduce the costs of cancer care

The costs for cancer drugs have been increasing significantly in countries around the world. With the arrival of new therapies, the future of cancer care is exciting. But how will healthcare systems be able to pay for such innovations? In their commentary, Goldstein and co-authors discuss how biosimilars could help alleviate such challenges [1].

Safety differences in clinical trials for biosimilars

Differences in safety evaluations and findings between clinical trials for biosimilars are highlighted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, USA and Newcastle University in the UK. This they argue is a reason for clinical trial design for biosimilars to be standardized [1].

Assessing analytical comparability for G-CSF biosimilars

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a biosimilar is a biological product shown to be ‘highly similar to an FDA-approved biological product’, and which ‘has no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety and effectiveness’. Only minor differences in clinically inactive components are allowable in biosimilars. Biosimilars of approved biologicals at the end of their patent life are expected to cost less but be as safe and effective for licensed clinical uses. To date, FDA has approved four biosimilars [1], while the European Union has approved more than 20 biosimilars [2].

Extrapolation of indications for biosimilar infliximab and etanercept

Biosimilar infliximab (Inflectra/Remsima) was approved in Europe in September 2013 for the same indications as the originator product (Remicade). More recently, biosimilar etanercept (Benepali) was approved in Europe in January 2016 for the same indications as the originator product (Enbrel) [1]. Researchers from the National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust and King’s College London, discuss the extrapolation of the indications for the biosimilars [2].