FDA approves first epoetin alfa biosimilar for the treatment of anemia

FDAThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Retacrit (epoetin alfa-epbx) as a biosimilar to Epogen/Procrit (epoetin alfa) for the treatment of anemia caused by chronic kidney disease, chemotherapy, or use of zidovudine in patients with HIV infection. Retacrit is also approved for use before and after surgery to reduce the chance that red blood cell transfusions will be needed because of blood loss during surgery.

"It is important for patients to have access to safe, effective and affordable biological products and we are committed to facilitating the development and approval of biosimilar and interchangeable products," said Leah Christl, Ph.D., director of the Therapeutic Biologics and Biosimilars Staff in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Biosimilars can provide greater access to treatment options for patients, increasing competition and potentially lowering costs."

Biological products are generally derived from a living organism and can come from many sources, such as humans, animals, microorganisms or yeast. A biosimilar is a biological product that is approved based on data showing that it is highly similar to a biological product already approved by the FDA (reference product) and has no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety, purity and potency (i.e., safety and effectiveness) from the reference product, in addition to meeting other criteria specified by law.

The FDA's approval of Retacrit is based on a review of evidence that included extensive structural and functional characterization, animal study data, human pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data, clinical immunogenicity data and other clinical safety and effectiveness data that demonstrates Retacrit is biosimilar to Epogen/Procrit. Retacrit has been approved as a biosimilar, not as an interchangeable product.

The most common side effects of epoetin alfa-treated patients in clinical studies of the reference product were high blood pressure, joint pain, muscle spasm, fever, dizziness, medical device malfunction, blood vessel blockage, respiratory infection, cough, rash, injection site irritation, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, inflammation of the mouth and lips, weight decrease, reduction in white blood cells, bone pain, high blood sugar, insomnia, headache, depression, difficulty swallowing, low blood potassium, blood clots, itching, headache, injection site pain and chills.

Like Epogen/Procrit, Retacrit must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that provides information about the drug’s uses and risks. In addition, as with Epogen/Procrit, Retacrit contains a Boxed Warning to alert health care professionals and patients about increased risks of death, heart problems, stroke and tumor growth or recurrence. Additional warnings include high blood pressure, seizures, a condition in which the bone marrow stops making red blood cells thus causing anemia, serious allergic reactions and severe skin reactions.

The FDA granted approval of Retacrit to Hospira Inc., a Pfizer company.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Most Popular Now

Forxiga receives positive EU CHMP opinion for the …

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended a new indication for the marketing authorisation of Forxi...

Merck Granted U.S. Patent for novel combination of…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it has been granted Patent No. US 10,193,695 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO...

Pfizer receives positive CHMP opinion for Vizimpro…

Pfizer today announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion recommending V...

US FDA grants Breakthrough Therapy Designation for…

AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Ther...

Merck to expand US biopharmaceutical R&D facil…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced a $70 million investment to expand its state of the art research and development (R&D) facility in Biller...

Amgen and UCB receive positive vote from FDA Advis…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and UCB (Euronext Brussels: UCB) announced strong support from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advis...

New pill can deliver insulin

An MIT-led research team has developed a drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin, potentially replacing the injections that people with type 2 di...

Pfizer and Lilly announce top-line results from se…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) today announced positive top-line results from a Phase 3 study evaluating tanezumab 2.5 mg or 5 mg in patients...

Merck and Tencent announce collaboration on intell…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Tencent, a leading provider of Internet value added services. The collabo...

Cannabinoid compounds may inhibit growth of colon …

Medical marijuana has gained attention in recent years for its potential to relieve pain and short-term anxiety and depression. Now, Penn State College of Medicine resear...

Researchers call for big data infrastructure to su…

Researchers from the George Washington University (GW), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and industry leaders published in PLOS Biology, describing a standard...

New computational method reduces risk of drug form…

One major factor that determines the efficacy of a drug is the structure that its molecules form in a solid state. Changed molecular structures can entail that pills stop...