British Biosimilars Association launched as market hots up

The British Biosimilars Association (BBA) industry body has been formally launched, focusing on increasing, and understanding, biosimilar use as several near-copy competitors to key big-selling drugs approach the market.

The news comes after a report last month by IMS Health said that England had been quick to use these cheaper near-copies of biological drugs. One example is filgrastim, which has been on the market in the country since 2009 and is used to stimulate white blood cell production following chemotherapy.

But pharmaphorum has heard anecdotally that there have been delays in funding for Celltrion/Hospira’s biosimilar of Johnson & Johnson/MSD’s Remicade (infliximab) for inflammatory diseases, launched just over a year ago and the first biosimilar of a monoclonal antibody to be approved.

Biosimilar Remicade has the potential to save the National Health Service (NHS) millions, particularly as a competitor from Samsung is poised to hit the market following a recommendation from European regulators.

The report forecast biosimilars could save the US and the five largest EU countries up to $110 billion as they will be considerably cheaper than the big-selling biological drugs, such as AbbVie Humira’s (adalimumab), against which they are set to compete.

Samsung also has an EU marketing authorisation for a biosimilar of Amgen/Pfizer’s Enbrel (etanercept) for inflammatory diseases and manufacturers are also developing biosimilars of key cancer drugs such as Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab).

Napp Pharmaceuticals, which markets the Celltrion biosimilar infliximab in the UK, said it will be a “core member” of the BBA.

Napp’s medical director, Dr Paul Scholfield, said: “Biosimilars have been shown to have no clinically meaningful differences from their originator biologic medicine counterparts.

“The landscape for biosimilar medicines has changed significantly over the past 12 months as the wealth of evidence has increased and new or updated professional guidance further supports greater uptake of biosimilars.

“As a core member of the BBA we will be working closely with our partners to drive a sustainable environment for a pragmatic and responsible approach to the use of biosimilars by the NHS and healthcare professionals across the UK.”

Related stories:

Biosimilars could save US and EU $110bn by 2020 – report

European regulators back Samsung’s Remicade biosimilar

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