Challenges for biosimilars: focus on rheumatoid arthritis

Safwan Akram, Neelam Pery, Lucy Butler, Muhammad Imtiaz Shafiq, Nayab Batool, Muhammad Fayyaz ur Rehman, Luke G. Grahame-Dunn, Ali K. Yetisen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Healthcare systems worldwide are struggling to find ways to fund the cost of innovative treatments such as gene therapies, regenerative medicine, and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). As the world’s best known mAbs are close to facing patent expirations, the biosimilars market is poised to grow with the hope of bringing prices down for cancer treatment and autoimmune disorders, however, this has yet to be realized. The development costs of biosimilars are significantly higher than their generic equivalents due to therapeutic equivalence trials and higher manufacturing costs. It is imperative that academics and relevant companies understand the costs and stages associated with biologics processing. This article brings these costs to the forefront with a focus on biosimilars being developed for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). mAbs have remarkably changed the treatment landscape, establishing their superior efficacy over traditional small chemicals. Five blockbuster TNFα mAbs, considered as first line biologics against RA, are either at the end of their patent life or have already expired and manufacturers are seeking to capture a significant portion of that market. Although in principle, market-share should be available, withstanding that the challenges regarding the compliance and regulations are being resolved, particularly with regards to variation in the glycosylation patterns and challenges associated with manufacturing. Glycan variants can significantly affect the quality attributes requiring characterization throughout production. Successful penetration of biologics can drive down prices and this will be a welcome change for patients and the healthcare providers. Herein we review the biologic TNFα inhibitors, which are on the market, in development, and the challenges being faced by biosimilar manufacturers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalCritical Reviews in Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2020


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