In the latest blow to those seeking an alternative to Amgen’s Neulasta®, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a complete response letter to Biocon, citing manufacturing plant deficiencies, in its rejection of their biosimilar pegfilgrastim application.
Announced on October 10, this is the second biosimilar from Indian manufacturer Biocon that has been detoured by manufacturing plant problems. Its Bangalore plant, where the partners’ biosimilar trastuzumab was to be manufactured, was also cited earlier this year.
In August, Biocon and its marketing partner Mylan withdrew its European Medicines Agency applications for pegfilgrastim and trastuzumab after receiving negative reports on its manufacturing facility.
This is the second FDA biosimilar rejection relating to plant deficiencies. In June, the agency issued a complete response letter to Pfizer, resulting from a legacy Hospira plant in Kansas.
In the press release announcing the latest setback to its pegfilgrastim biosimilar, Biocon said that the complete response letter relates to “facility requalification activities post recent plant modifications. The CRL did not raise any questions on biosimilarity, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic data, clinical data or immunogenicity.”
Biocon also stated that “We do not expect this [complete response letter] to impact the commercial launch timing of biosimilar pegfilgrastim in the US.” Although Mylan and Biocon had not publicly announced an intended launch date once it received approval, Amgen’s principal patents for Neulasta have expired. One might have expected a relatively quick launch of its biosimilar, considering the 180-day postlaunch exclusivity period no longer exists and the possibility of other players in the market, including Coherus, Pfizer, and Apotex (all of whom received complete response letters).