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Infliximab biosimilars are safe, effective, and cheap, UK audit shows

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 22 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i5084

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Re: Infliximab biosimilars are safe, effective, and cheap, UK audit shows

We read White’s article on the safety and cost-effectiveness of biosimilars with interest1. This timely topic is of great clinical interest, especially with more branded drugs coming out of patent in the coming months, meaning it could potentially save the NHS up to £3m a year in the United Kingdom2, and giving the opportunity to divert these funds to other health sectors for improving patient care.

The use of biosimilar agents, both in the UK and the EU, is still limited mainly due to the current lack of conclusive data supporting their effectiveness and low adverse effect profile. We have used Inflectra for the treatment of patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in an ongoing prospective study starting in September 2014.

All 37 patients were started on Inflectra following extensive clinical assessment and appropriate blood test results, and none were on a concurrent steroid therapy.

In pre- and post-infusion blood tests we observed that the serum magnesium and phosphate levels showed a marked decrease within a few hours following the infusion but did not drop below the normal range and did not cause any clinical manifestations.

In conclusion, our preliminary results are in keeping with the findings published by the Royal College of Physicians in their National IBD audit. We believe that Inflectra is as safe and effective as the originator biologic agent but much cheaper.

1. White Caroline. Infliximab biosimilars are safe, effective, and cheap, UK audit shows. BMJ 2016; 354 :i5084
2. Royal College of Physicians IBD Programme. National clinical audit of biological therapies: UK Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) audit – annual report. Sept 2016.

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 September 2016
Alexios Klonis
FY2 doctor
Theodora Kalli, Chrysostomos Klonis
Department of Endoscopy, Larnaca General Hospital, Larnaca, Cyprus