Biosimilars

Innovators and Biosimilar Companies: Experts Predict Intense Conflicts Ahead

CPhI Worldwide (organized by UBM) announced last fall the final section findings of the fifth edition of the CPhI Annual Report. Presented live at the meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, the report is now available online. It highlights immediate and long-term trends in pharmaceutical data, regulation, generics, and biosimilars. Four experts gave their views. They warned that the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approach to achieving six-sigma (nearly perfect or 99.9997% defect-free) quality is failing in respect to the pharmaceutical…

An Approach to Generating Better Biosimilars: Considerations in Controlling Glycosylation Variability in Protein Therapeutics

The global market for biotherapeutics has expanded extensively over the past decade and is projected to account for more than a quarter of the pharmaceutical market by 2020, with sales exceeding US$290 billion (1). Continued expansion of the biosimilar marketplace has led to many commercial opportunities and technical challenges. The biological systems used to manufacture such drug products are inherently variable — a feature that has important consequences for the reproducibility, safety, and efficacy of the resulting products. Therefore, a…

eBook: Challenges Facing Biosimilar Entries into US Markets

Since the 2009 enactment of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) (1), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed six biosimilar products under PHS 351(k) and approved one product under FD&C 505 (b)(2). It also provided complete response letters (CRLs) to four biologics license application (BLA) filings (Table 1) (2). By comparison, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved 31 biosimilar products (3) and refused or withdrawn about five. There is no doubt that US market…

Controlling Glycosylation in Fusion Protein Manufacturing to Generate Potent Biobetters

The pipelines of pharmaceutical companies are full of biological drugs. Many of them are innovative therapeutic proteins, but a growing number represent biosimilars and biobetters (Figure 1) (1). Biobetters typically are defined as being “based on innovative biologics but with improved properties” (2). Their development benefits from known therapeutic approaches and mechanisms of action resulting in low risk, fast paths to the clinic and thus lower costs. Superiority is achieved through extended half-life (t1/2), improved efficacy, and reduced immunogenicity or…

Opportunities and Challenges in Biosimilar Development

A biosimilar biotherapeutic product is similar (but not identical) in terms of quality, safety, and efficacy to an already licensed reference product. Unlike generic small molecules, it is difficult to standardize such inherently complex products based on complicated manufacturing processes. Table 1 describes the main differences between biosimilar and generic drug molecules. The global biosimilar market is growing rapidly as patents on blockbuster biologic drugs expire (Table 2) and other healthcare sectors focus on reduction of costs. Biologics are among…

Introduction: Tackling the Technical and Regulatory Challenges of Biosimilar Development

In a just a few years, the biopharmaceutical industry has gone from questioning the feasibility of “follow-on biologics” (around the time of BPI’s first issues) to fearing them (when we published our first supplement on the topic in 2013) to the acceptance and strategizing of today. Perhaps because of its more socialized medicine, Europe led the way in biosimilar regulation and approved its first such product nearly 10 years before the first US biosimilar launch in 2015. In between came…

Advancements in Characterizing Therapeutic Protein Higher-Order Structure

Electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) is a well-established tool for biotherapeutic analysis. It draws intact proteins or peptide ions into the vacuum of a mass spectrometer, where the ion mass is measured. Electrospray ion-mobility mass spectrometry (ESI-IMS) introduces ions into a low-pressure gas, where the effects of aerodynamic drag reveal their shape. This technique is just emerging as a valuable tool for characterizing intact proteins, even though for a decade it’s been the basis of a commercially available medical diagnostic test…

Biosimilar Markets and Regulation: Which Countries Are Going All In?

The pipeline of follow-on (biosimilar and biobetter) products in development for the US, EU, and other major markets is very healthy. It includes nearly 800 biosimilars, about three-quarters of which are presumed to be targeted for major markets, and about 500 biobetters in development. Nearly 1,200 follow-on biopharmaceutical products in the development pipeline are intended to compete with more than 100 currently marketed biopharmaceuticals. This is not just an opportunity in the Western world; biosimilars development is expanding globally. But…

The Clinical Side of Biosimilar Development

Biosimilars have become common on pharmacy shelves in Europe. The first biosimilar product — Sandoz’s Omnitrope version of Lilly’s Humatrope (somatropin) — was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2006. In the decade that followed, more than 20 biosimilars have gained regulatory approval in Europe. The first biosimilar monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) — comparators to Janssen’s Remicade (infliximab) — were approved in 2013. The pace of approvals in the United States has been much slower. The US Food and…

Evolving Bioassay Strategies for Therapeutic Antibodies: Essential Information for Proving Biosimilarity

The modern age of biologics began 35 years ago with the approval of Lilly’s Humulin product — a biosynthetic form of human insulin derived from recombinant DNA and microbial cell culture (1). Today, about a quarter (27%) of the drugs approved yearly by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) are biopharmaceuticals: primarily monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), but also vaccines, blood products, and (recently), advanced therapies based on genes and cells. A decade ago, the average…