Sponsors and regulators have more than 10 years of experience with the development of biosimilars in Europe. However, the regulatory pathway is still evolving. The present article provides an update on biosimilar development in practice by reviewing the clinical development programmes of recently approved biosimilars in Europe.
We used the European public assessment reports (EPARs) which are published by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for a comparison of the clinical development programmes of the 37 approved biosimilars in Europe. Here, we present novel strategies in the development of biosimilars by focusing specifically on the 17 biosimilars that have gained approval in the last year, but we also compare additional key characteristics for all approved biosimilars.
The high variability of the clinical development strategies that we found previously was confirmed in the present analysis. Compared with earlier biosimilar applications, more nonstandard development strategies have been used recently. This includes, for example, applications without any studies in patients, and more complex study designs. During this study, we found that the EPARs for biosimilars seem to be improving; however, we identified important details which were still often missing. We provide a proposal for a checklist of the minimum information that should be included in biosimilar EPARs for giving the general public insights into the rationale for the approval of biosimilars.
European regulators still seem to be open to consider approaches that differ from the guidelines or previous applications, as long as justification is provided.