A German manufacturer is considering its options after the successful completion of two clinical studies involving a pegfilgrastim biosimilar (MSB11455).
Fresenius Kabi, which completed its purchase of the biosimilar business from Merck KGaA in September 2017, announced its investigational biosimilar agent had proved sufficiently similar to the reference product Neulasta® in these phase 1 investigations (conducted in healthy participants). These may serve as pivotal investigations for the manufacturer, which said in its release, “Both studies are designed to enable the application for marketing authorization in the EU and US.” This may be the first indication that Fresenius Kabi seeks to be a player in the US.
Fresenius Kabi does not yet have an approved biosimilar on the European market. It hopes that MSB11455 may propel its fortunes on both sides of the Atlantic.
In its first study, the company reported that its biosimilar “met all primary pharmacokinetic endpoints, [maximum plasma concentration], and area under the curve, as well as the primary pharmacodynamic endpoints of absolute neutrophil count (ANC).” Fresenius Kabi added that there were no meaningful differences in the frequency of adverse events in these healthy volunteers. The second study focused on the biosimilar’s potential for immunogenicity, and this was also determined to be no different between the reference drug and the biosimilar. In addition, neutralizng antibodies were not found.
If Fresenius Kabi proceeds with an application for approval in either market, it will find a good deal of competition for pegfilgrastim biosimilars. In Europe, up to 5 biosimilars may be approved (2 already are). In the US, Mylan’s product is the only one to be approved, but another (Coherus Biosciences) is expecting a decision from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early November. Two others (Sandoz and Apotex) are seeking US drug approval.
In other biosimilar news…The Food and Drug Administration’s Oncology Drug Advisory Committee voted unanimously (16-0) today to recommend Celltrion’s CT-P10 rituximab biosimilar for approval. If the biosimilar is approved by the FDA, it will be marketed by Teva….Mundipharma purchased European biosimilar maker Cinfa, which has a pegfilgrastim that has received a CHMP recommendation for approval in the EU.
The information package released by reviewers for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates that a positive recommendation for Celltrion’s rituximab biosimilar is likely at the Advisory Committee meeting on October 10.
The members of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee will review the data and hear public comments before voting to recommend that the FDA ultimately approve or reject CT-P10 for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Celltrion did not perform clinical trials for rituximab’s autoimmune indications. However, if the FDA approves CT-P10, it may extrapolate the approval to other indications as well.
The original 351(k) application by Celltrion in April 2017 resulted in a complete response letter from the FDA. The rejection for this rituximab biosimilar cited multiple deficiencies, including “clinical, product quality, and facility” problems, as well as clinical study issues from the original submission.
According to the FDA reviewers, “In considering the totality of the evidence, the data submitted by [Celltrion] show that CT-P10 is highly similar to US-licensed Rituxan®, notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive compounds, and support a demonstration that there are no clinically meaningful differences between CT-P10 and US-licensed Rituxan in terms of safety, purity, and potency of the product.”
BR&R will cover the Oncology Drug Advisory Committee meeting and provide updates on its decision. If this rituximab biosimilar is eventually approved by the FDA, Teva would market the product in North America, based on a previous partnership agreement.
In other biosimilar news…Merck has inked an exclusive contract to supply its biosimilar infliximab (Renflexis®) with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. According to a report from Pharmaphorum, it will be the only infliximab biosimilar on the VA’s national formulary.
Anticipating that its issues with the Incheon, South Korea, manufacturing plant will be resolved, Celltrion has resubmitted its biologic license application for a rituximab biosimilar (CT-P10).
In the April 2018 complete response letters sent by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on CT-P10 and the trastuzumab biosimilar CT-P6, FDA cited aseptic practices at the manufacturing plant that it announced in January. The resubmission should mean that a decision will come within six months of the application date, keeping it in the race for the first rituximab biosimilar.
Celltrion, in its announcement, also affirmed that it intends to resubmit its application for its trastuzumab biosimilar in June. In its press release, Celltrion stated, “Celltrion has made progress addressing the concerns raised by the FDA in the warning letter and is committed to working with the Agency to fully resolve all outstanding issues with the highest priority and urgency.”
This marks the quickest turnaround seen yet for reapplication following an FDA rejection of a biosimilar. Truxima® is the brand name of Celltrion’s rituxumab biosimilar that is approved in Europe.
In other biosimilar news…The European Commission announced a proposal that would enable biosimilar manufacturers to produce and export their products before EU full intellectual property rights terminate. This would obviate Special Protection Certificates, which were created in 1992. Under these certificates, intellectual property rights continue for 5 years after EU patent expiration. The announced change would be implemented by end of this year. It will mark the end of special compensation to pharmaceutical industry for the extended period required for research, development, and regulatory approval.
Sandoz’s biosimilar version of infliximab has been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Dubbed Zessly™ this agent was the fourth infliximab biosimilar approved in Europe.
Just weeks after Celltrion presented data at the American College of Rheumatology meeting demonstrating that its product CT-P10 is as safe and effective as Rituxan® for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) received the recommendation to approve the product for use in the EU.
The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use sent its recommendation to EMA on December 15. Assuming the regulator grants marketing authorization, CT-P10 will be sold as Truxima™ and will be indicated for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, RA, granulomatosis with polyangiitis GPA, and microscopic polyangiitis.
The originator product in the EU is MabThera®, which was licensed in 1998. If approved, it will be the first CD20-inhibiting monoclonal antibody to reach the market in a biosimilar version.
In other news from Europe: EMA Launches Consulting Pilot for Biosimilar Manufacturers. In what may be a page taken the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) playbook, the EMA is offering scientific advice, starting February 2017, for companies seeking to bring a biosimilar to market. As part of the FDA’s biosimilar development program, it meets with manufacturers at various stages to consult on their analytical and clinical testing projects. The EMA’s pilot initiative does seem to be more limited, however, in that it offers a presubmission consultation. The pilot is said to run for up to 6 requests for scientic advice.