Approval of biosimilars1


Biological medicines (‘biologicals’) contain active substances from a biological source, such as living cells or organisms. The manufacture of biological medicines tends to be more complex than for chemically-derived molecules. Since biosimilars are a type of biological medicine, all features pertinent to biological medicines apply.

Biosimilars are approved according to the same standards of pharmaceutical quality, safety and efficacy that apply to all biological medicines approved in the EU. The aim of biosimilar development is to demonstrate biosimilarity - high similarity in terms of structure, biological activity and efficacy, safety and immunogenicity profile.

Demonstration of biosimilarity relies on comprehensive comparability studies with the reference medicine.

Data Requirements for Approval of a Biological Medicine

All medicines produced using biotechnology and those for specific indications (e.g. for cancer, neuro- degeneration and auto-immune diseases) must be approved in the EU through the European Medicines Agency.

Medicines are approved when studies on their pharmaceutical quality, safety and efficacy convincingly demonstrate that the medicine’s benefits outweigh the risks (‘positive benefit-risk balance’). For any biological medicine with a new active substance, a positive benefit-risk balance is determined mainly from evidence of safety and efficacy in pivotal trials in humans, supported by solid pharmaceutical quality data and non-clinical data. By demonstrating high similarity with the reference medicine, the biosimilar can largely rely on the efficacy and safety experience gained with the reference medicine.

Pharmaceutical Quality Studies: Standard for all Medicines

The studies to prove pharmaceutical quality should provide detailed data on:

  • structural characterisation and other physicochemical properties
  • purity (traces of residues from the manufacturing process have to be controlled and must not exceed acceptable levels)
  • biological activity
  • excipients and starting materials
  • strength and formulation
  • the control of the manufacturing process (to ensure that the active substance and finished product conform with the accepted ranges for technical specifications)
  • stability of the active substance and finished product during shelf-life under defined storage conditions

Comparative Studies: The Cornerstone of Biosimilar Development

Biosimilar development relies heavily on ‘comparability studies’ to establish biosimilarity to the reference medicine. This involves a comprehensive head-to-head comparison of the biosimilar and the reference medicine.

Comparative quality studies

In vitro studies compare the protein structure and biological function using sensitive techniques capable of detecting minor differences with clinical relevance between the biosimilar and its reference medicine.

These studies are much more sensitive than clinical trials for detecting such differences, as there is often variability among human subjects participating in trials.

- Differences that may affect clinical safety, efficacy or immunogenicity need to be further studied.

Comparative non-clinical studies

These studies include pharmacodynamic studies in vitro, which look at binding and activation (or inhibition) of physiological targets and immediate physiological effects in cells.

Pharmacodynamic studies in vivo (animal models) are only done if no suitable in vitro model exists.

In vivo toxicological studies are only required in certain cases, for example when the biosimilar is produced in a new type of cell or organism, or when the formulation includes new excipients not used previously.

Comparative clinical studies

The aim of studies in humans is not to demonstrate safety and efficacy in patients, as these have already been established for the reference medicine.

Clinical trials are tailored to confirm biosimilarity and to address any questions that may remain from previous analytical or functional studies.

Risk Management Plan

Companies applying for marketing authorisation in the EU must submit a risk management plan (RMP) for each new medicine, including biological medicines. The RMP, which is tailored for each product, includes a pharmacovigilance plan and risk minimisation measures to identify, characterise and minimise a medicine’s important risks. The RMP of a biosimilar is based on knowledge and experience gained with the reference medicine.

Benefits

By demonstrating biosimilarity, a biosimilar can rely on the safety and efficacy experience gained with the reference medicine. This avoids unnecessary repetition of clinical trials already carried out with the reference medicine.

Reference:

Adverse Events Reporting

This medicine is subject to additional monitoring. This will allow quick identification of new safety information. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare providers are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions. Reporting forms and information can be found at http://www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard. In order to support effective tracking and traceability of biologics including biosimilars, it is recommended that the brand name and batch number are recorded and used when reporting adverse events. You can also report adverse events direct to the marketing authorisation holder at ukpharmacovigilance@mylan.com.

Semglee® (Insulin glargine) 100 units/ml solution for injection in pre-filled pen

Prescribing information

Please refer to Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) before prescribing.

Indication: Semglee® is indicated in the treatment of diabetes mellitus in adults, adolescents and children aged 2 years and above. Presentation: Each ml contains 100 units insulin glargine* (equivalent to 3.64 mg). Each pen contains 3 ml of solution for injection, equivalent to 300 units. Dosage and administration: Semglee® (insulin glargine) has a prolonged duration of action. It should be administered once daily at any time but at the same time each day. The pre filled pen delivers insulin in increments of 1 unit up to a maximum single dose of 80 units. The dose regimen (dose and timing) should be individually adjusted. In patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, Semglee® can also be given together with orally active antidiabetic medicinal products. The potency of Semglee® is stated in units and these units are exclusive to Semglee®. Special population: Elderly population (≤ 65 years old): progressive deterioration of renal function may lead to a steady decrease in insulin requirements. Renal impairment: insulin requirements may be diminished due to reduced insulin metabolism. Hepatic impairment: insulin requirements may be diminished due to reduced capacity for gluconeogenesis and reduced insulin metabolism. Paediatric population: For adolescents and children aged 2 years and older patients, the dose regimen (dose and timing) should be individually adjusted. For children below 2 years of age the safety and efficacy of Semglee® have not been established. No data are available. Switch from other insulins to Semglee® When switching from a treatment regimen with an intermediate or long acting insulin to a regimen with Semglee®, a change of the dose of the basal insulin may be required and the concomitant antidiabetic treatment may need to be adjusted (dose and timing of additional regular insulins or fast acting insulin analogues or the dose of oral antidiabetic medicinal products). Switch from twice daily NPH insulin to Semglee®: To reduce the risk of nocturnal and early morning hypoglycaemia, daily dose of once daily basal insulin should be reduced by 20-30% during the first weeks of treatment. Switch from insulin glargine 300 units/ml to Semglee®: Semglee® and insulin glargine 300 units/ml are not bioequivalent and are not directly interchangeable. To reduce the risk of hypoglycemia in this group, Semglee® dose should be reduced by approximately 20%. During the first weeks increase mealtime insulin, after this period the regimen should be adjusted individually. Close metabolic monitoring is recommended during the switch and in the initial weeks thereafter. A further adjustment in dose regimen may become necessary with improved metabolic control, change of timing of insulin, patient weight or life style changes. Patients with high insulin doses because of antibodies to human insulin may experience an improved insulin response with Semglee®. Method of administration Semglee® is administered subcutaneously only. Injection sites must be rotated within a given injection area from one injection to the next. Semglee® must not be mixed with any other insulin or diluted. Before using the pre filled pen, the instructions for use included in the package leaflet must be read carefully (see section 6.6). Contraindications: Known hypersensitivity to the active substances or to any of the excipients. Warnings and precautions: Warnings: Semglee® is not the insulin of choice for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. In case of insufficient glucose control or a tendency to hyper- or hypoglycaemic episodes, the patient's adherence to the prescribed treatment regimen, injection sites and proper injection technique and all other relevant factors must be reviewed before dose adjustment is considered. Changes in insulin strength, manufacturer, type, origin, method of manufacture and/or method of administration may result in the need for a change in insulin dose or an adjustment in concomitant oral antidiabetic treatment. Hypoglycaemia Due to more sustained basal insulin supply with Semglee®, less nocturnal but more early morning hypoglycaemia can be expected. Intercurrent illness In many cases urine tests for ketones are indicated, and often it is necessary to adjust the insulin dose. The insulin requirement is often increased. Patients with type 1 diabetes must continue to consume at least a small amount of carbohydrates on a regular basis, even if they are able to eat only little or no food or are vomiting etc. and they must never omit insulin entirely. Insulin antibodies Rare chance of antibodies formation, may require insulin dose adjustment to avoid hyper- or hypoglycaemia. Handling of the pen Before using Semglee® pen, the instructions for use included in the package leaflet must be read carefully. Semglee® pen has to be used as recommended in the instructions for use. Medication errors Insulin label must always be checked before each injection to avoid medication errors between insulin glargine and other insulins. Interaction with other medicinal products: Pioglitazone should be discontinued if any deterioration in cardiac symptoms occurs when used with Semglee®. Substances that may enhance the blood glucose lowering effect include oral antidiabetic medicinal products, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, disopyramide, fibrates, fluoxetine, monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, pentoxifylline, propoxyphene, salicylates and sulfonamide antibiotics. Substances that may reduce the blood glucose lowering effect include corticosteroids, danazol, diazoxide, diuretics, glucagon, isoniazid, oestrogens and progestogens, phenothiazine derivatives, somatropin, sympathomimetic medicinal products (e.g. epinephrine [adrenaline], salbutamol, terbutaline), thyroid hormones, atypical antipsychotic medicinal products (e.g. clozapine and olanzapine) and protease inhibitors. Beta blockers, clonidine, lithium salts or alcohol may either potentiate or weaken the blood glucose lowering effect of insulin. Pentamidine may cause hypoglycaemia, which may sometimes be followed by hyperglycaemia. Pregnancy and lactation: Pregnancy For insulin glargine no clinical data on exposed pregnancies from controlled clinical studies are available. A large amount of data on pregnant women (more than 1000 pregnancy outcomes) indicate no specific adverse effects of insulin glargine on pregnancy and no specific malformative nor feto/neonatal toxicity of insulin glargine. Animal data do not indicate reproductive toxicity. The use of Semglee® may be considered during pregnancy, if clinically needed. The use of Semglee® may be considered during pregnancy, if clinically needed. Careful monitoring of glucose control is essential. Breast feeding It is unknown whether insulin glargine is excreted in human milk. Women may require adjustments in insulin dose and diet. Effects on ability to drive and use machines: The patient's ability to concentrate and react may be impaired as a result of hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia or, for example, as a result of visual impairment. Undesirable effects: Very common: Hypoglycaemia. Common: Lipohypertrophy, Injection site reactions Uncommon: Lipoatrophy. For rare and very rare undesirable effects, please refer to SmPC. Name and Address of Marketing Authorisation Holder: Mylan S.A.S., 117 allée des Parcs, 69800 Saint Priest, France. Marketing Authorisation Number: EU/1/18/1270/003 Basic NHS price: 3ml x 5 pens=£29.99 Legal Category: POM Date of Last Revision: October 2018

Detailed information on this medicinal product is available on the website of the European Medicines Agency http://www.ema.europa.eu. and from Mylan Medical Information, Building 4, Trident Place, Hatfield Business Park, Mosquito Way, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9BW, phone no. 01707 853000, Email: info@mylan.co.uk

This medicine is subject to additional monitoring. This will allow quick identification of new safety information. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare providers are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions. Reporting forms and information can be found at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard. In order to support effective tracking and traceability of biologics including biosimilars, it is recommended that the brand name and batch number are recorded and used when reporting adverse events. Adverse events should be reported to Pharmacovigilance, Mylan, Building 4, Trident Place, Hatfield Business Park, Mosquito Way, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9UL, on phone no. 0800 121 8267, Email: ukpharmacovigilance@mylan.com

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