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Highly Accessed Commentary

Biosimilars: a regulatory perspective from America

Jonathan Kay

Author Affiliations

Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts, Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center, Rheumatology Center, Memorial Campus, 119 Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13:112  doi:10.1186/ar3310

Published: 12 May 2011

Abstract

Biosimilars are protein products that are sufficiently similar to a biopharmaceutical already approved by a regulatory agency. Several biotechnology companies and generic drug manufacturers in Asia and Europe are developing biosimilars of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and rituximab. A biosimilar etanercept is already being marketed in Colombia and China. In the US, several natural source products and recombinant proteins have been approved as generic drugs under Section 505(b)(2) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, because the complexity of large biopharmaceuticals makes it difficult to demonstrate that a biosimilar is structurally identical to an already approved biopharmaceutical, this Act does not apply to biosimilars of large biopharmaceuticals. Section 7002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is referred to as the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, amends Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act to create an abbreviated pathway that permits a biosimilar to be evaluated by comparing it with only a single reference biological product. This paper reviews the processes for approval of biosimilars in the US and the European Union and highlights recent changes in federal regulations governing the approval of biosimilars in the US.