Data from Drugs - Curated by EPG Health - Date available 01 March 2018


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1 March 2018

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Introduction: To evaluate the possibility that switching from reference biologic medicines to biosimilars could lead to altered clinical outcomes, including enhanced immunogenicity, compromised safety, or diminished efficacy for patients, a systematic literature review was conducted of all switching studies between related biologics (including biosimilars).

Methods: A systematic search was conducted using the Medline® and Embase® databases up to 30 June 2017 employing specific medical subject heading terms. Additionally, the snowball method and a hand search were also applied. Publications were considered if they contained efficacy or safety information related to a switch from a reference medicine to a biosimilar. Non-English, non-human studies, editorials, notes, and short surveys were excluded.

Results: Primary data were available from 90 studies that enrolled 14,225 unique individuals. They included protein medicines used in supportive care as well as those used as therapeutic agents. The medicines contained seven different molecular entities that were used to treat 14 diseases. The great majority of the publications did not report differences in immunogenicity, safety, or efficacy. The nature and intensity of safety signals reported after switching from reference medicines to biosimilars were the same as those already known from continued use of the reference medicines alone. Three large multiple switch studies with different biosimilars did not show differences in efficacy or safety after multiple switches between reference medicine and biosimilar. Two publications reported a loss of efficacy or increased dropout rates.

Conclusions: While use of each biologic must be assessed individually, these results provide reassurance to healthcare professionals and the public that the risk of immunogenicity-related safety concerns or diminished efficacy is unchanged after switching from a reference biologic to a biosimilar medicine.

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