Guidelines on Evaluation of Similar Biotherapeutic Products (SBPs). WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization, Sixtieth report (19-23 October 2009). WHO Technical Report Series No. 977, 2013 - Annex 2
(2013; 34 pages) [Portuguese] [Spanish]


Biotherapeutic products (biotherapeutics) have a successful record in treating many life-threatening and chronic diseases. However, their cost has often been high, thereby limiting their access to patients, particularly in developing countries. Recently, the expiration of patents and/or data protection for the first major group of originator's biotherapeutics has ushered in an era of products that are designed to be "similar" to a licensed originator product. These products rely, in part, for their licensing on prior information regarding safety and efficacy obtained with the originator products. The clinical experience and established safety profile of the originator products should contribute to the development of similar biotherapeutic products (SBPs). A variety of terms, such as "biosimilar products", "follow-on protein products" and "subsequent-entry biologics" have been coined by different jurisdictions to describe these products.

The term "generic" medicine is used to describe chemical, small molecule medicinal products that are structurally and therapeutically equivalent to an originator product whose patent and/or data protection period has expired. The demonstration of bioequivalence of the generic medicine with a reference product is usually appropriate and sufficient to infer therapeutic equivalence between the generic medicine and the reference product. However, the approach established for generic medicines is not suitable for development, evaluation and licensing of SBPs since biotherapeutics consist of relatively large, and complex proteins that are difficult to characterize. The clinical performance of biotherapeutics can also be much influenced by the manufacturing process and some clinical studies will also be required to support the safety and efficacy of a SBP...

The intention of this document is to provide globally acceptable principles for licensing biotherapeutic products that are claimed to be similar to biotherapeutic products of assured quality, safety, and efficacy that have been licensed based on a full licensing dossier. On the basis of proven similarity, the licensing of a SBP will rely, in part, on non-clinical and clinical data generated with an already licensed reference biotherapeutic product (RBP). This guideline can be adopted as a whole, or partially, by NRAs worldwide or used as a basis for establishing national regulatory frameworks for licensure of these products.

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