Biosimilar medicines, equivalent biological products which have no meaningful differences from the original or reference product in terms of quality, safety or efficacy, are playing an important role in providing choice for clinicians and increasing access for patients by driving down cost to the NHS.

Warwick Smith, Director General of the British Biosimilars Association (BBA) explains: “Biological medicines are protein-based and made or derived from living organisms. Unlike traditional chemical equivalents they can be tailor-made, so they bind to specific targets
in the body and treat serious or chronic diseases. A biosimilar medicine is manufactured to be highly similar to an existing licensed ‘reference’ biological medicine after expiry of its patent.

“Biological medicines have dominated global lists of the best-selling prescription drugs. Very successful treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases have led the way and, as the industry moves forward, other disease areas such as oncology are increasingly coming to the fore in new biosimilar medicines.”

Even before adalimumab’s high-profile patent expiry, spending on biosimilars was rising. Sang-Jin Pak, Chief Operating Officer of Samsung Bioepis, says: “Biological medicines accounted for six of the world’s best-selling drugs in 2017, and their share of healthcare spending has been rising sharply.

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