FDA Biosimilar Action Plan Presented at NASP 2019 Annual Meeting

Specialty Pharmacy Times, September/October 2019, Volume 11, Issue 6

During the 2019 National Association of Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting and Expo, Ron Lanton III, Esq, reviewed the FDA Biosimilars Action Plan, its implications for the biosimilar marketplace, recent legislation set to influence the biosimilar pathway and drug accessibility, and the future of the biosimilar market.

During the 2019 National Association of Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting and Expo, Ron Lanton III, Esq, reviewed the FDA Biosimilars Action Plan, its implications for the biosimilar marketplace, recent legislation set to influence the biosimilar pathway and drug accessibility, and the future of the biosimilar market.

Lanton began his presentation referencing the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, which was enacted with the intent to balance innovation and consumer interest via an abbreviated approval pathway for biologic drugs that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with FDA-approved medications.

The FDA has since made substantial progress toward the scientific and regulatory policies needed to facilitate the abbreviated pathway. It established the Therapeutic Biologics and Biosimilars Staff under the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, which supports consistent review of policy development for all biosimilars and interchangeable products, Lanton said. The agency also created the Biosimilar Product Development Program to facilitate the rapid development of biosimilar and interchangeable products. Finally, it has prioritized efforts to share regulatory information of stakeholders by publishing policies and documents on exclusivity.

Lanton noted the FDA Biosimilars Action Plan was released to allow the federal agency to manage the review and licensure pathway to facilitate biosimilar legislation; modernize policies that govern the development of biosimilars to make the process more efficient; educate clinicians, payers, and patients regarding biosimilar products and the rigorous evaluations that they go through; and modernize regulatory policies to accommodate new scientific tools that enable comparison between biosimilars and reference products, which may reduce the need for clinical studies.

The Biosimilars Action Plan also calls for the development of an application review templated for 351(k) biological licensing indications, improving coordination and supporting activities in the biosimilar/interchangeable process, accelerating the response time to determine the appropriate stakeholders, and increasing stakeholder communication, Lanton said.

The FDA said these actions and the revised guidelines are meant to prevent companies from blocking new biosimilars from entering the market and to stop manufacturers of reference products from manipulating the exclusivity provision to fend off biosimilar entry to the marketplace.

According to Lanton, the FDA is also going to issue a notice of how, if requested, it would go about trial protocols of applicants to determine whether its new protocols give enough safety protections for biosimilars in term of strategy. In May 2019, the FDA released a document seeking to promote competition in the biologic development market by providing final guidelines for interchangeable biologics.

“The FDA is updating guidelines now to provide additional clarity to biosimilar applicants who seek approval for all conditions for use for which the reference product is licensed,” Lanton said during the presentation. “The agency is also developing a proposed rule on the interpretation of the definition of [biological product], which will provide additional clarity and predictability.” Lanton referenced the following Congressional bills in his presentation:

  • The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act, still under consideration, seeks to speed the entry of lower-priced drugs into the market.
  • The Biologic Patent Transparency Act codifies the FDA’s Purple Book as a single searchable list and requires additional information to be published in it.
  • The Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Through Improvements to Patent Litigation Act of 2019 limits to 20 patents that can be claimed for a reference product sponsor and tries to stop the “patent thicket.”
  • The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 has the sole purpose of lowering drug prices. It wants to require that prescription biosimilar and biologic manufacturers that don’t have a Medicaid drug rebate agreement to report average sale price information to the Health and Human Services Secretary, who will use that informmation to establish the payment rates.

“Given the relative newness of biosimilars, the FDA is taking a proactive role toward giving clinicians, patients, and payers information about biosimilars and interchangeable products,” Lanton said. “They are doing this by developing educational materials and videos, explaining the concepts that the agency can use. The FDA will continue to evaluate if these firms are using statutory or regulatory requirements to appropriately delay the approval of a biosimilar or interchangeable companion.”

In referencing the future of biosimilars, Lanton stated that by 2020, there will be 56 new products in clinical development and as much as $110 billion in savings to health systems in Europe and the United States. Furthermore, there will be a 30% reduction in price per treatment day compared with originator biologics.