What are Biologics and Biosimilars?
Biologics or biological products are medicines made from living organisms through highly complex manufacturing processes and must be handled and administered under carefully monitored conditions. Biologics include a wide variety of products such as gene and cell therapies, therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines. Biologics are used to prevent, treat or cure a variety of diseases including cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and autoimmune disorders.
A biosimilar is exactly what its name implies — it is a biologic that is “similar” to another biologic medicine (known as a reference product) which is already licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Biosimilars are highly similar to the reference product in terms of safety, purity and potency, but may have minor differences in clinically inactive components. In approving biosimilars, the FDA may require that manufacturers conduct a clinical study (or studies) sufficient to establish safety, purity or potency in one or more uses for which the reference product is licensed and the biosimilar seeks licensure.