FDA Approves First Biosimilar Cancer Treatment


New biosimilars could play an important role in helping spur competition that can lower health care costs and increase access to important therapies.

Officials with the FDA have approved bevacizumab-awwb (Mvasi, Amgen) as a biosimilar to the cancer drug bevacizumab (Avastin, Roche).

Mvasi is the first biosimilar approved in the United States to treat cancer, according to an FDA statement. It is indicated to treat adult patients with certain types of colorectal, lung, brain, kidney, and cervical cancers.

The approval is based on evidence that included extensive structural and functional characterization, animal study data, human pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics data, clinical immunogenicity data, and other clinical safety and efficacy data, demonstrating that Mvasi is highly similar to the reference product Avastin.

In studies, the most common adverse events (AEs) of Mvasi included epistaxis, headache, hypertension, rhinitis, proteinuria, taste alteration, dry skin, hemorrhage, lacrimation disorder, back pain, and exfoliative dermatitis.

Serious AEs include perforation or fistula, arterial and venous thromboembolic events, hypertension, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, proteinuria, infusion-related reactions and ovarian failure.

The following are specific approved indications for Mvasi:

  • Metastatic colorectal cancer, in combination with intravenous 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy for first- or second-line treatment.
  • Metastatic colorectal cancer, in combination with fluoropyrimidine-irinotecan- or fluoropyrmidine-oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy for the second-line treatment of patients who progressed on a first-line bevacizumab-based regimen.
  • Non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel for first-line treatment of unresectable, locally advanced, recurrent, or metastatic disease.
  • Glioblastoma with progressive disease following prior therapy, based on improvement in objective response rate.
  • Metastatic renal cell carcinoma, in combination with interferon alfa.
  • Cervical cancer that is persistent, recurrent, or metastatic, in combination with paclitaxel and cisplatin or paclitaxel and topotecan.

In the clip below, Marcus H. Snow, MD, from University of Nebraska Medical Center, explains how pharmacists can counsel patients on biologics.

“Bringing new biosimilars to patients, especially for diseases where the cost of existing treatments can be high, is an important way to help spur competition that can lower health care costs and increase access to important therapies,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in the statement. “We’ll continue to work hard to ensure that biosimilar medications are brought to the market quickly, through a process that makes certain that these new medicines meet the FDA’s rigorous gold standard for safety and effectiveness.”


FDA approves first biosimilar for the treatment of cancer [news release]. Gaithersburg, MD. FDA press office; September 14, 2017. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm576112.htm. Accessed Sept. 14, 2017.

This article originally appeared on Specialty Pharmacy Times.

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