By Lynn L. Bergeson
On November 15, 2019, Sarah Yim, M.D., acting director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Therapeutic Biologics and Biosimilars in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, released a statement on FDA’s continued progress facilitating competition in the biologic marketplace with approval of its 25th biosimilar project. In her statement, Dr. Yim highlights FDA’s approval of one of nine new biosimilar products approved in 2019. Bringing the overall total of biosimilar approvals to 25, Dr. Yim states: “I’m pleased to see this progress and am confident that the market for these therapies will continue to grow.” Approved under FDA’s Biosimilar Product Development Program, the 25th biosimilar announced is one of 38 products that have been enrolled in the program. The program’s goal is to discuss development of proposed biosimilar products or interchangeable products, laying the foundation for ongoing competition in the marketplace.
Typically more complex than other drugs and developed through advanced science, biological products, commonly referred to as biologics, are generally made from natural or living sources, such as animal and plant cells, and microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast. Biologics and biosimilar products are highly similar to, and have no clinically meaningful differences from, existing FDA-approved biologic products called reference products. As part of FDA’s efforts to support these products, Dr. Yim also highlighted FDA’s work under the Biosimilars Action Plan. The work under this plan includes efforts to develop and implement new biosimilar-specific review templates and progress toward the development and validation of pharmacodynamic biomarkers tailored to biosimilar development. Part of these efforts involves FDA’s provision of scientific and regulatory clarity for the biosimilar development community, combined with communication and outreach education. Dr. Yim concludes: “The promise of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products in providing increased access to important therapies is great, and the FDA will continue to do all that we can to facilitate competition in this area.”