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Biosimilar trastuzumab candidates in phase III development

The introduction of Herceptin (trastuzumab) revolutionalized the treatment of breast cancer. Prior to its introduction there were few treatment options available to women with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer.

Biosimilars for inflammatory bowel disease in Norway

Europe approved its first biosimilar monoclonal antibody Inflectra/Remsima (infliximab) on 10 September 2013 [1]. The biosimilar is now recommended by the Norwegian Drug Procurement Cooperation (LIS) as the first choice, which carries out the procurement for all medicines financed by public hospitals in Norway. Gastroenterologists, however, are cautious about using the biosimilar ‘until more studies of the new medicine have been completed’ [2].

Biosimilar G-CSF safe for mobilization of stem cells

A study into the use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) biosimilars for peripheral blood haematopoietic stem cell (PBSC) mobilization has found them to be equivalent to the reference G-CSF [1].

Rituximab ‘similar biologic’ shows equivalent efficacy and safety

A retrospective analysis of cancer patients who received either originator or ‘similar biologic’ rituximab chemotherapy showed comparable efficacy and safety [1].

Challenges for the regulation of biosimilars

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was the first agency to issue guidelines for the approval of biosimilars via an abbreviated registration process back in 2006. Since then the agency has developed many general and specific guidelines for biosimilars, as well as approved 18 biosimilars to date [1]. Tsiftsoglou and co-authors, however, believe that many challenges still lie ahead for this class of biologicals, some of which are discussed here [2].

Quality by design for biosimilars

A study into the use of quality by design (QbD) has demonstrated how risk management can facilitate the implementation of QbD in the early-stage product development of biosimilars [1].

Cost savings to be made by switching to Zarzio

Since the first filgrastim biosimilar was approved in 2008, there is now five years of data on which to assess the efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of biosimilar granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSFs). A pooled analysis of post-approval studies of one of the most common biosimilar G-CSFs, Zarzio (filgrastim), is presented by Pere Gascón and co-authors [1]. Their findings highlight significant cost savings in health authority regions that have switched from the originator G-CSF to its biosimilar Zarzio. The study overturns early concerns that cost savings would not be so great as hoped [2].

Regulatory principles for biosimilar monoclonal antibodies

It is sometimes argued that there is less clinical evidence for biosimilars. However, Tsiftsoglou and co-authors pointed out that European Medicines Agency (EMA) guidelines for biosimilars are not primarily driven by feasibility considerations or to make it as easy as possible, but to add to the totality of evidence. And it is this that finally drives the regulatory acceptance of a biosimilar [1].

Are biosimilars worth it?

Will off-patent biological medicines offer the same cost savings as those seen with off-patent non-biological (chemically derived) medicines? A group of health economists based in Brussels, Belgium, have begun to address the question in light of increasing numbers of biological medicines going off patent and the new phenomenon of biosimilar competition [1].

Protein aggregation and the generation of immune responses

During a presentation given by Ms Melody Sauerborn (TNO Triskelion, The Netherlands) at an international conference on biowaivers and biosimilars, held in the US in September 2012, the immunological aspects of formation of anti-drug antibodies against aggregated protein drugs were discussed [1].

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