Biosimilars in 2014: Landmark Events and What They Mean for 2015 and Beyond

Biosimilars are potentially disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry; the biosimilars sector not only allows extremely lucrative commercial opportunities for biosimilar companies but also poses an immense threat to innovator companies. Regulatory and commercial events that occurred in 2014 mean that biosimilars are set to become an imminent reality in the United States. Furthermore, owing to increased global development of biosimilar regulatory guidelines and approval pathways during 2014, the future biosimilar opportunity is only set to grow.

Companies are aggressively developing biosimilars to leverage the healthcare austerity environment by offering lower-cost biologics and, in doing so, make payers partners for the uptake of these products. To gain maximum uptake, biosimilar manufacturers need to be aware of the competitive landscape and challenges associated with biosimilar product development. As a result, biosimilar companies are honing their strategies and evaluating appropriate alliances and clinical trial designs. From the innovator side of the industry, companies are adopting measures to limit the negative impact that biosimilars pose to their brands.

In this report, we focus on the key clinical, corporate, and regulatory events affecting the industry in 2014. Key events that stand out include the EMA approval and tentative FDA approval of Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim’s insulin glargine product, the first follow-on insulin approved in the G7 markets; FDA acceptance of biosimilar applications from Sandoz, Celltrion, and Apotex, and progress in the development of biosimilar approval pathways in Russia and China. These events highlight the dynamic nature of the biosimilar industry and signify imminent change to the size of the biosimilar industry.

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