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Follow-on biologicals and extrapolation in Brazil

Researchers from Brazil discuss the country’s approach to follow-on biologicals and extrapolation of indications in the country [1].

Biosimilar policies around the globe

With the authorization of an increasing number of biosimilars, and the prospect of multiple biosimilar switching, biosimilar naming and the importance of this for pharmacovigilance are coming into sharper focus.  Authors from around the world considered various biosimilar issues/policies in different countries and regions [1].

ASCO issues position statement on biosimilars in oncology

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued a position statement on biosimilars in oncology. The statement reflects the society’s views on issues such as naming, labelling, safety and efficacy, interchangeability, switching and substitution of biosimilars, as well as on the value of biosimilars and prescriber and patient education [1].

Use and cost of biologicals for cancer treatment in Southern Italy

Oncological-targeted therapies, both biological and non-biological, represent a significant clinical and economic burden in routine care and have a major impact on the sustainability of National Health Services. With this in mind, a study by Lucchesi et al. investigated the use and costs of these targeted therapies for cancer treatment in the general population of Southern Italy during the period 2010−2014 [1].

Structure-function relationship between disulfide bonds and TNF-α neutralization in etanercept

Research carried out by Sandoz describes how a novel incorrect disulfide bridge structure present at low levels in commercial etanercept inhibits etanercept potency by reducing its ability to neutralize soluble tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) [1].

Pharmacy-mediated substitution: the global policy landscape

There is a complex global regulatory landscape when it comes to biosimilars. In particular, there is much debate over substitution practices. Substitution describes the practice where a pharmacist decides to change a product, dispensing an equivalent (generic small molecule) or highly similar product (biosimilar) without the prescribing physician’s prior consent. This is distinct from switching, whereby a physician changes a patient’s treatment, between reference product and a biosimilar, or between biosimilars. Between March and May 2017, Pfizer conducted an internal global survey of 82 countries in which it examined biosimilar pharmacy-mediated substitution. Here, the company hoped to understand and benchmark the global policy landscape [1].

Kissei/JCR’s darbepoetin alfa biosimilar shows equivalent safety and efficacy

Japan-based collaborators Kissei Pharmaceutical (Kissei) and JCR Pharmaceuticals (JCR) announced on 17 January 2018 positive results for the phase III study of their candidate darbepoetin alfa biosimilar, JR‑131.

Strategies of players on the global biopharmaceutical market

With many expensive and high-selling biologicals losing patent protection and other exclusivity rights, biosimilars of these molecules may now enter the market, resulting in a shift of market shares, revision of strategies of companies and attraction of new players to the biopharmaceutical market.

Barriers to the market access of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies

In September 2013, the first biosimilar monoclonal antibody (mAb) was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), i.e. biosimilar infliximab (Inflectra/Remsima). These products entered the European market in 2015, after expiry of patent and other exclusivity rights of the innovator medicine Remicade. With the ever-increasing cost of health care and the economic pressure to reduce or sustain healthcare expenses, biosimilars could be instrumental in reducing cost for medication and increasing patient access to treatment. Although exclusivity rights of multiple mAbs are expired (rituximab in 2013, trastuzumab in 2014), only recently biosimilar mAbs other than infliximab are receiving marketing authorization (rituximab, adalimumab). Furthermore, earlier biosimilars have seen slow uptake in European markets. This may imply that several barriers hinder market access of biosimilar mAbs.

Generics versus biosimilars: pricing and usage-enhancing policies

In Europe, pricing and demand-side measures for generic medicines are widely implemented and have undergone evaluations [1-4].  However, when it comes to biosimilars, the policies implemented by European countries are less well known and explored.