Canada’s Proposal for Subsequent Entry Biologics

After writing about Follow-On Biologics in a recent posting, I saw a notice about Health Canada’s proposal for how they would approve biologic products that are similar to already approved biologics whose patents have expired. They call these products Subsequent Entry Biologics (SEBs), and the proposal is open for public comment from March 14, 2008 until April 16, 2008.

While the draft guidance is lengthy, it does strike an overall well-balanced tone:

  • “SEBs are not ‘generic biologics'”
  • Approval of an SEB does not mean it can automatically be substituted for the original biologic that it is “similar” to
  • Comparative studies will be required to generate data showing similarity to the original biologic in terms of quality, safety and efficacy

In many ways, the draft guidance is similar (no pun intended) to the process the US FDA used to approve some generic drugs prior to the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act. (This was the law that created the abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) process which allowed generic drugs to only demonstrate bioequivalence, and obviated the requirement that they replicate the original drugs safety and efficacy trials.) By referencing published studies about the innovator drug as proof of safety and efficacy, these so called “Paper-NDAs” allowed generic companies to be approved much faster and more cheaply.

Health Canada’s “paper biologic licensing application” like proposal, would allow them to rely on published information about the original biologic, while also handling each SEB application individually to decide what additional studies need to be done to demonstrate quality, safety and efficacy of the SEB.

As I pointed out in my previous post, there are many levels of structural and biological complexity with biologic treatments, so Health Canada’s draft approach seems very appropriate and reasonable.

What do you think?

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