Biosimilars: A consideration of the regulations in the United States and European union

Justin Daller
Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology: RTP 2016, 76: 199-208
Biosimilars are defined as biological products that are highly similar to a reference product, notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components. Biosimilars show no clinically meaningful differences in safety, purity, and potency of the product in comparison to the reference product. With the ever looming patent expiry of some major high cost biologics, biosimilar production is becoming ever more lucrative to companies. Europe (EU) set the precedent, followed by the United States (US) in early 2012, for the approval process for biosimilars. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of the regulatory processes in the US and EU and to determine the requirements of each in the approval process of a biosimilar. The current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency's (EMA) guidance documents for biosimilars were reviewed revealing a need for further clarifications, as well as specifically addressing Celltrion's and Sandoz's application for approval for the biosimilars infliximab and filgrastim, respectively. Currently, the FDA and EMA focus on comparability in terms of the clinical, pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD), preclinical, biological activity, and physiochemical characterization results, as well as requiring a robust and consistent manufacturing process. Both the EU and US have prepared guidance documents for biosimilars that will result in biotherapeutics that are as safe and efficacious as the innovator product but the necessity exists to globally harmonize international nonproprietary naming nomenclature and clarify how the concept of pharmacovigilance, extrapolation, and interchangeability will be handled and regulated in the future.

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