FDA Approves Second Infliximab Biosimilar

On April 21, 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its nod to a new biosimilar version of infliximab, and will compete against the originator product Remicade®. Manufactured by Samsung Bioepis, it will be marketed by Merck in the US as Renflexis™.

The new agent, the first approved from Samsung Bioepis, will have to elbow its way to marketshare alongside Pfizer’s Inflectra®, which was launched late in 2016. The nonproprietary name of the new agent is infliximab-abda, in keeping with FDA’s 4-letter suffix policy.

Renflexis was approved for the full slate of indications of the other infliximab agents, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

This biosimilar approval was the first by FDA without the formal meeting of its advisory committees. The agency had first indicated that it would not require advisory committee meetings for biosimilar products in September 2016, when an FDA official   stated that “the first biosimilar for each reference product will have an advisory committee, but there will not be hearings for any others ‘unless there’s a specific issue to discuss.’”

This version of infliximab was approved in 2016 by the European Medicines Agency as Flixabi, and this agent is marketed by Biogen. Biogen is a partner with Samsung in Samsung Bioepis.

The manufacturing and licensing partners have indicated that they intend to market Renflexis at the end of its 180-day notification period, in November. However, assuming patient litigation is ongoing, the launch may have to be at-risk, as was Pfizer’s launch of Inflectra, to avoid additional delays in commercialization.

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