YOUR GO-TO SOURCE FOR ANALYSIS OF ISSUES AFFECTING THE PHARMA & BIOTECH SECTORS

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an updated draft guidance on March 7 on the nonproprietary naming of biologics, titled Nonproprietary Naming of Biological Products: Update. This update is FDA’s second attempt at guidance concerning nonproprietary name suffixes for biologic products. It also highlights the perceived tension between FDA’s pharmacovigilance role and goal of increasing the availability of biosimilars. At least for this round, FDA’s interest in tracking pharmacovigilance data seems to have received priority.

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In FDA’s latest Director’s Corner podcast, Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER or Center), reflects on the Center’s accomplishments of the past year and priorities for 2019. As expected, parts of CDER were affected by the government shutdown, which has caused a delay in the development of some of the Center’s policy activities and accomplishments to start the year. However, despite the delay, Dr. Woodcock provided updates on several initiatives coming up in 2019. Below is a summary of the major initiatives to expect in 2019. Overall, it looks like CDER is gearing up for a busy and productive year. Industry stakeholders should be on the lookout for many new developments coming out of the Center.

Law360 published an article on August 18, 2018, by Morgan Lewis life sciences lawyers that discusses the FDA’s plans to advance biosimilar products. In an effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, the Biosimilars Action Plan (BAP) focuses on four key strategies:  (1) improving the efficiency of the biosimilar and interchangeable product development and approval process; (2) maximizing scientific and regulatory clarity for the biosimilar product development community; (3) developing effective communications to improve understanding of biosimilars among patients, providers, and payors; and (4) supporting market competition by reducing gaming of FDA requirements or other attempts to unfairly delay market competition to follow-on products. As discussed in the article, the BAP outlines several priority deliverables to achieve each strategy. Time will tell, however, if the BAP is able to achieve its goal of facilitating biosimilar development and promoting biosimilar use.

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In an attempt to minimize perceived obstacles to generic drug market entry, the FDA issued two draft guidance documents on May 31, 2018, related to shared system risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS), providing the industry with insight into a previously underdefined area of FDA regulation. A shared REMS is one that encompasses multiple prescription drug products and is implemented jointly by two or more applicants. One of the new draft guidance documents sets forth the circumstances when a shared REMS program is required. The other draft guidance explains how to request a waiver from a shared REMS, signaling FDA’s willingness to grant such waivers.

Unfortunately, FDA did not provide any concrete steps to assist drug manufacturers with the challenging task of working cooperatively with market competitors on these drug safety programs. Nevertheless, the two guidance documents are a must-read for both brand and generic drug applicants.

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