A new analysis conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concludes that generic, or biosimilar, forms of a biologic drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as psoriasis may be as effective as the original version. Biologics, a fast-growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry, are expensive to manufacture, and as they come off patent, interest in the cost saving potential of generic versions or biosimilars has intensified. Study leader G. Caleb Alexander, MD, commented, “The billion-dollar question has been whether these ‘generic biologics’ are the same as the brand-name versions…based on the available evidence, we conclude that the products we studied appear comparable, and they will definitely be cheaper.” The findings were published earlier this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study conclusions are based on an analysis of the literature comparing treatment outcomes for biologic and biosimilar forms of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis. TNF can cause inflammation and immune-system diseases affecting multiple organ systems. Data from the 19 studies analyzed concluded that biosimilar options were comparable in safety and effectiveness to their branded counterparts, which include Humira®, Cimzia®, Enbrel® and Simponi®. While noting that the conclusions thus far apply only to TNF-α inhibitors, Dr. Alexander asserted that the investigation of other biosimilar products, including biosimilar insulins, is warranted.
Read a news story about the conclusions here.
The article abstract may be read here.