News from the FDA/CDC

FDA, FTC uniting to promote biosimilars


The Food and Drug Administration is collaborating with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to expand the biosimilars market.

FDA icon Wikimedia Commons/FitzColinGerald/ Creative Commons License

The two agencies signed a joint statement on Feb. 3, 2020, outlining four sets of goals aimed at creating meaningful competition from biosimilars against their reference biologic products.

“Competition is key for helping American patients have access to affordable medicines,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, said in a statement. “Strengthening efforts to curtail and discourage anticompetitive behavior is key for facilitating robust competition for patients in the biologics marketplace, including through biosimilars, bringing down the costs of these crucial products for patients.”

The statement highlighted four goals. First is that the agencies will coordinate to promote greater competition in the biologic market, including the development of materials to educate the market about biosimilars. The FDA and FTC also sponsored a public workshop on March 9 to discuss competition for biologics.

The second goal has the FDA and FTC working together “to deter behavior that impedes access to samples needed for the development of biologics, including biosimilars,” the joint statement notes.

Third, the agencies will crack down on “false or misleading communications about biologics, including biosimilars, within their respective authorities,” according to the joint statement.

“FDA and FTC, as authorized by their respective statutes, will work together to address false or misleading communications about biologics, including biosimilars,” the statement continues. “In particular, if a communication makes a false or misleading comparison between a reference product and a biosimilar in a manner that misrepresents the safety or efficacy of biosimilars, deceives consumers, or deters competition, FDA and FTC intend to take appropriate action within their respective authorities. FDA intends to take appropriate action to address such communications where those communications have the potential to impact public health.”

Finally, the FTC committed to review patent settlement agreements involving biologics, including biosimilars, for antitrust violations.

Separately, the FDA issued a draft guidance document for comment on manufacturers seeking licensure of biosimilar products that do not cover all the approved uses of the reference product, as well as how to add uses over time that were not part of the initial license of the biosimilar product. The draft guidance covers licensure of products, labeling of biosimilars with fewer indications than the reference product, supplemental applications for indications not on the initial biosimilar application but covered by the reference product, and the timing of applications.

The FDA notes in the draft guidance that this is needed to cover situations such as when some indications on the reference product are covered by exclusivity, although it does encourage a biosimilar manufacturer to seek licensure for all indications that the reference product does have.

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