Biosimilar Opportunities In An Evolving Market
The long awaited promise of biosimilars takes another step to fulfilment with the first approval in Europe of high-value second generation products. But what products can be expected to follow, who is developing them and what are the hot prospects?
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Biosimilars: another milestone passed
At the end of June 2013, the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medical Products for Human Use issued a positive opinion for the first biosimilar version of Johnson & Johnson’s infliximab for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and plaque psoriasis. For the two successful applicants, Celltrion and Hospira, this development passes a significant milestone for the whole biosimilar sector as the products are the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies to reach a positive opinion following review via the EMA biosimilars regulatory pathway. This is an important event which heralds a new era of lower-cost biological therapies in Europe.
For J&J and its partners, the news is less welcome. Already under pressure from branded competitors in the TNF inhibitor market, it is no surprise that both developer and biosimilar companies will be assessing what share they may secure of its US$6.13 billion revenues.
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The tip of a US$41 billion iceberg
While significant for J&J, infliximab is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential for biosimilars. In terms of revenue, six of the top ten pharmaceutical therapies are biological products, which have been targeted by biosimilar developers: Abbvie’s Humira (adalimumab), Roche’s MabThera (rituximab), Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab), Sanofi’s Lantus (insulin glargine), and Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade (infliximab). These products had combined global sales of US$41.4 billion in 2012. Also of significant importance to biosimilar developers, with sales of US$4.2 billion in 2012 is Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept).
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