Biosimilar: What it is not

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© 2015 The British Pharmacological Society. A biosimilar is a high quality biological medicine shown to be in essence the same as an original product. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) paved the way in the regulatory arena by creating a safeguarding framework for the development of biosimilars. Biosimilar is thus a regulatory term that alludes to the evidence-based studies required to demonstrate such very high similarity. They are therefore not innovative products but the pathway laid down by the EMA for their approval represented a new paradigm. This has brought some confusion and has cast doubts among healthcare professionals about the scientific evidence behind their authorization. Many papers have been published to clarify the concept, and to reassure those professionals, but misconceptions frequently still arise. Unfortunately, this prevents biosimilars from deploying their full therapeutic added value. This paper is intended to approach those misconceptions from a new angle, by explaining what a biosimilar is not...and why. A biosimilar is neither a generic, nor an original product. It is not a biobetter or a 'stand-alone'. Therefore, it should not be managed as such therapeutically, commercially or from a healthcare policy viewpoint. The EMA's criteria were acknowledged by other agencies, but a significant regulatory gap with a vast majority of regulatory bodies still remains. This leaves room for the so-called non-original biologics (NOB), i.e. non-biosimilar biologics, to be launched in many regions. Raising awareness of what a biosimilar is and what it is not, will generate trust in biosimilars among healthcare professionals and will ultimately benefit patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-956
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • biobetter
  • biologic
  • biosimilar
  • biotechnology-derived medicine
  • generic
  • non-original biologic


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