Intended for healthcare professionals


Drug companies lobby against generic versions of biologics

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 04 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f740
  1. Miriam E Tucker
  1. 1Washington, DC

Biotechnology companies have launched a lobbying initiative to try to stop or slow down the introduction of generic versions of expensive biological drugs. State legislatures across the United States are introducing bills that could make it more difficult for doctors to prescribe—and for patients to obtain—cheaper versions of the drugs.

Generic versions of biological drugs are known as biosimilars. The original versions of the biologics include drugs such as rituximab (marketed as Rituxan or MabThera), trastuzumab (Herceptin), and bevacizumab (Avastin). These are among the best selling anticancer drugs in the world. The drugs, which are produced in cell systems, are said to account for about 25% of the US annual drug bill of $320bn (£205bn; €235bn).

Like other generic drugs, biosimilars are designed to be cheaper versions of brand name drugs. But they are created by …

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