Biosimilars: “The Horse is Out of the Barn”

A recent study (J Sieczkowska-Golub et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 285-88) reports on 36 pediatric patients who received CT-P13, an infliximab biosimilar.  Key findings:

  • 34 of 36 (94.4%) completed induction therapy
  • Clinical response based on pCDAI was noted in 31 of 36 (86%)
  • Clinical remission based on pCDAI was noted in 24 of 36 (67%)

The authors concluded that the induction was effective and similar to the reference infliximab.

In the accompanying editorial, Dr. de Ridder and Dr. Winter make some crucial observations:

  • “Although the study…is important, the number of subjects in this study are low and follow-up is short (14 weeks).”
  • “It is still a large step from adults to children.” Children may have important differences in IBD pathogenesis and pharmocokinetics may not be the same as in adults.
  • The studies supporting CT-P13 (Planetas, Planetra, and NOR-SWITCH) were studies of adult patients.
  • “The data in children are scarce.” However, “the horse has already left the barn. In many European countries both naive pediatric patients with IBD and patients who have switched from the originator are treated with CT-P13.”
  • While “caution is still needed,” the lower costs of CT-P13 will “lead to wider availability.”

My take: We still have a lot to learn.  Until more studies are available, switching stable patients could increase risk of losing response.

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