Silver Spring, Maryland, USA: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Fulphila (pegfilgrastim-jmdb) as the first biosimilar to Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) to decrease the chance of infection as suggested by febrile neutropenia (fever, often with other signs of infection, associated with an abnormally low number of infection-fighting white blood cells), in patients with non-myeloid (non-bone marrow) cancer who are receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy that has a clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia.
“Bringing new biosimilars to patients is a top priority for the FDA, and a key part of our efforts to help promote competition that can reduce drug costs and promote access,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “We’ll continue to prioritize reviews of these products to help ensure that biosimilar medications are brought to the market efficiently and through a process that makes certain that these new medicines meet the FDA’s rigorous standard for approval. This summer, we’ll release a comprehensive new plan to advance new policy efforts that promote biosimilar product development. Biologics represent some of the most clinically important, but also costliest products that patients use to promote their health. We want to make sure that the pathway for developing biosimilar versions of approved biologics is efficient and effective, so that patients benefit from competition to existing biologics once lawful intellectual property has lapsed on these products.”
Biological products are generally derived from a living organism and can come from many sources, such as humans, animals, microorganisms or yeast. A biosimilar is a biological product that is approved based on data showing that it is highly similar to a biological product already approved by the FDA (reference product) and has no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety, purity and potency (i.e., safety and effectiveness) from the reference product, in addition to meeting other criteria specified by law.
The FDA’s approval of Fulphila is based on review of evidence that included extensive structural and functional characterization, animal study data, human pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data, clinical immunogenicity data, and other clinical safety and effectiveness data that demonstrates Fulphila is biosimilar to Neulasta. Fulphila has been approved as a biosimilar, not as an interchangeable product.
The most common side effects of Fulphila are bone pain and pain in extremities. Patients with a history of serious allergic reactions to human granulocyte colony-stimulating factors such as pegfilgrastim or filgrastim products should not take Fulphila.
Serious side effects from treatment with Fulphila include rupture of the spleen, acute respiratory distress syndrome, serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, acute inflammation of the kidney (glomerulonephritis), an abnormally high level of white blood cells (leukocytosis), capillary leak syndrome and the potential for tumor growth. Fatal sickle cell crises have occurred.
The FDA granted approval of Fulphila to Mylan GmbH.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
“Today’s approval of Fulphila represents a meaningful step forward in the affordability and accessibility of cancer care in the US,” said Rajiv Malik, president of Mylan, codeveloper, with Biocon, of the Neulasta biosimilar.
Biologic drugs, like Neulasta, represent a large and increasing portion of the overall prescription drug market. They are important in the treatment of many chronic and acute diseases, including cancer. However, these drugs can cost far more than traditional prescription drugs, and their cost can prohibit access. According to a survey from the American Society for Clinical Oncology, more than half (56%) of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned they could afford treatment. Biologics accounted for 70% of drug spending growth between 2010 and 2015.
Biosimilar medicines are deemed by FDA to be highly similar to an already-approved biologic product. They fill an urgent and unmet need for more affordable alternatives to biologic therapies, increasing access and providing savings for patients and the overall healthcare system. It is projected that biosimilars will generate a savings of $54 billion in direct spending on biologic drugs in the U.S. between 2017 and 2026.