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Case studies on clinical evaluation of biosimilar monoclonal antibody: Scientific considerations for regulatory approval

Biologicals, Volume 43, Issue 1, January 2015, Pages 1 - 10


The objective of this paper is to provide considerations based on comprehensive case studies important for regulatory evaluation of monoclonal antibodies as similar biotherapeutic products (SBPs) with a special emphasis on clinical aspects. Scientific principles from WHO Guidelines on SBPs were used as a basis for the exercise. Working groups consisted of regulators, manufacturers and academia. The following topics were discussed by the working groups: clinical criteria for biosimilarity, extrapolation approach and the overall regulatory decision making process.

In order to determine typical pitfalls in the design of a SBP clinical programme and evaluate the gap of knowledge, amongst different industry and regulatory stakeholders on the appraisal of the data arising from SBP clinical studies, we have presented two fictional but realistic clinical case studies. The first case consists of the fictional development programme for an infliximab SBP candidate. The second case describes clinical studies proposed for a fictional rituximab SBP candidate. In the first scenario a highly similar quality profile has been taken forward into clinical studies whereas there was an important residual difference in functional attributes for the rituximab SBP candidate.

These case studies were presented at the WHO implementation workshop for the WHO guidelines on evaluation of similar biotherapeutic products held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in May 2014. The goal was to illustrate the interpretation of the clinical data arising from studies with SBP candidates and elicit knowledge gaps in clinical assessment. This paper reflects the outcome of the exercise and discussions held in Seoul and offers an analysis of the case studies as a learning opportunity on clinical development and evaluation of SBPs.

Keywords: Biosimilar, Clinical assessment, Equivalence, Extrapolation, Similar biotherapeutic products, WHO.


a Celltrion Inc, Incheon, Republic of Korea

b Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Republic of Korea

c World Health Organization, Switzerland

Corresponding author. Tel.: +82 1071657877.

∗∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +41 227913136.