Clinical and regulatory perspectives on biosimilar therapies and intended copies of biologics in rheumatology

Eduardo Mysler, Carlos Pineda, Takahiko Horiuchi, Ena Singh, Ehab Mahgoub, Javier Coindreau, Ira Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Biologics are vital to the management of patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Nevertheless, access to these highly effective treatments remains an unmet medical need for many people around the world. As patents expire for existing licensed biologic (originator) products, biosimilar products can be approved by regulatory authorities and enter clinical use. Biosimilars are highly similar copies of originator biologics approved through defined and stringent regulatory processes after having undergone rigorous analytical, non-clinical, and clinical evaluations. The introduction of high-quality, safe, and effective biosimilars has the potential to expand access to these important medicines. Biosimilars are proven to be similar to the originator biologic in terms of safety and efficacy and to have no clinically meaningful differences. In contrast, “intended copies” are copies of originator biologics that have not undergone rigorous comparative evaluations according to the World Health Organization recommendations, but are being commercialized in some countries. There is a lack of information about the efficacy and safety of intended copies compared with the originator. Furthermore, they may have clinically significant differences in formulation, dosages, efficacy, or safety. In this review, we explore the differences between biosimilars and intended copies and describe key concepts related to biosimilars. Familiarity with these topics may facilitate decision making about the appropriate use of biosimilars for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-625
Number of pages13
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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