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Napp launches biosimilar in UK

Published on 25/02/15 at 10:33am
Napp image
Napp, Cambridge Science Park

Napp Pharmaceuticals has launched its own biosimilar version of an anti-TNF biologic in Europe paving the way for patient access to biological medicines in the UK.

The Cambridge-based company’s Remsima (infliximab) is an anti-inflammatory biological medicine licensed for the treatment of a range of illnesses including Crohn’s disease – a long-term condition that affects about 115,000 people in the UK.

Napp now joins US-based firm Hospira in launching such a drug into the European market when it released its own copycat version of Merck’s Remicade (infliximab) last week, which is now available in the UK.

Professor Chris Probert, who is an honorary consultant gastroenterologist at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust, says: “These new competitively priced medicines could allow the NHS to make significant cost savings and potentially expand patient access to treatment.

“It’s another piece of good news following NICE’s ruling that anti-TNF biologics can be used for moderate to severe ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and should mean fewer patients suffering with the debilitating symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.”

Biologic medicines are based on naturally occurring substances and produced in living cells, and have been available for many years.

Napp’s Remsima was revised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its quality, efficacy and safety ­– and results from clinical trials involving 850 patients in 20 countries have confirmed there were no clinically meaningful differences between the copycat drug and Remicade.

Dr Anthony Grosso, who is a principal hospital pharmacist, comments: “The launch of biosimilar infliximab is exciting news for patients, healthcare professionals and the NHS. Biosimilar medicines offer a unique opportunity to deliver high quality patient care in a more cost-effective way. Collaborative working will be required to ensure that maximal benefit is delivered to patients from these opportunities.”

Biologics are considered to be very expensive and in 2013 alone NHS England spent £164 million on Remicade, which meant that some patients missed out due to cost considerations. According to Napp its own version of the drug will provide potential cost savings in excess of 30% below the NHS List price of Merck’s Remicade.

The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) says the onset of biosimilar competition in the UK in Infliximab is another significant milestone in the development of the sector in this country.

Its director general Warwick Smith, adds: “In our view 2015 represents a breakthrough year for biosimilars and the launch of biosimilar Infliximab products will be the start of a sea-change in their use. NICE has acknowledged that biosimilars have the potential to offer the NHS considerable cost savings, especially as they are often used to treat long-term conditions."

Tom Robinson

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