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Marketing authorization for NBCDs in the EU

The regulatory body for approval of medicines in the European Union (EU) is the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The agency is responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the EU and this also includes non-biological complex drugs (NBCDs).

The European Pharmacopoeia monographs for biotherapeutic products

European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) monographs for biologicals have existed since the 1990s and remain the publicly available standard defining the quality of these medicines. Continued development of such monographs, however, faces considerable challenges and the value and utility of these monographs have been questioned in recent years. What such challenges are and how they can be overcome is discussed by Head of Division of the European Pharmacopoeia Department at the EDQM, Dr Emmanuelle Charton, in a GaBI Journal paper [1].

Study of top-down infliximab use in children with Crohn’s disease

The Erasmus Medical Center, in collaboration with the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and biosimilars maker Hospira, now Pfizer, is carrying out a study to investigate the benefits and risks of the use of infliximab as first-line use for children with active perianal fistulising Crohn’s disease [1].

Evidence on biosimilar efficacy and safety leads to ASAS/EULAR recommendation

A study of biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) found no reason for physicians not to prescribe infliximab biosimilars [1].

Improving efficacy of biologicals without increasing cost

Biologicals targeting antitumour necrosis factor-α, such as Remicade (infliximab) and Humira (adalimumab), have been used for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases for many years. The advent of biological therapies raised significant pharmacoeconomic concerns, because the cost of biological treatment is much higher than the cost for conventional treatments, typically Euros 10.000‒20.000 per patient per year. This is an issue discussed by Professor Ann Gils from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium [1].

Savings to be made by using etanercept biosimilar in UK

A study of patients taking etanercept to treat rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis in the UK has shown that there are substantial savings to be made by using the biosimilar [1].

Positive results for infliximab biosimilar in Crohn’s disease

Results of a phase III study of Celltrion’s infliximab biosimilar (Remsima; CT-P13) ‘indicate that the safety and efficacy of CT-P13 in patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease is comparable to those treated with reference infliximab’.

Candidate trastuzumab biosimilar meets equivalence requirements

Mylan and Biocon reported that their jointly developed, candidate trastuzumab biosimilar (MYL-1401O), had met equivalence requirements. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January 2017 [1].

Safe for IBD patients to switch to biosimilar infliximab

A UK study has shown that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients can be safely switched from originator infliximab, Johnson & Johnson’s and Merck’s Remicade, to biosimilar infliximab using a managed-switching programme [1].

Regional management of biosimilars in Germany

Biosimilars offer alternative treatment options and reduce the financial burden on healthcare systems often brought about by more expensive originator drugs. Approved biosimilars of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors, such as infliximab or etanercept, are managed differently across Europe. A recent study by Dr Mathias Flume assesses the prescription structure and regional uptake of these biosimilars across Germany, with focus on the Westphalia-Lippe region [1].