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Biosimilars take on original at breast cancer conference
  • By So Jae-hyeon
  • Published 2018.04.09 15:05
  • Updated 2018.04.10 11:06
  • comments 0

Industry officials said they were able to witness the advent of biosimilar drugs at the Global Breast Cancer Conference (GBCC) 2018 at Songdo ConvensiA Convention Center in Incheon, Thursday.

Suppliers of breast cancer treatments and anti-cancer agents were busy promoting their products at the breast cancer event.

Many multinational drugmakers such as Roche and Sanofi Genzyme and local firms, including GC Pharma, Shinpoong Pharm, and Dong-A ST, attended the GBCC 2018, although the recently enhanced anti-corruption law and antitrust rules chilled sponsorships for pharmaceutical conferences.

Biosimilars, in particular, attracted keen attention from participants at the event.

Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab) has been dominating the breast cancer treatment market. As of 2017, the blockbuster drug sold $7.43 billion (7.88 trillion won) around the world.

Checking the power of the original, Celltrion released a biosimilar version Herzuma and Samsung Bioepis, Samfenet. Herzuma obtained approval in 2014, and Samfenet, in 2017.

In a fierce competition to sell their breast cancer medicines, Roche, Celltrion Pharm and Daewoong Pharmaceutical (seller of Samfenet) set up their promotion booths elbow-to-elbow at the GBCC site.

(From left) Booths of Roche, Celltrion Pharm, and Daewoong Pharmaceutical promote breast cancer treatments at the Global Breast Cancer Conference 2018 at Songdo ConvensiA Convention Center in Incheon, Thursday.

Roche advertised not only Herceptin SC but metastatic breast cancer remedies Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine).

Kadcyla, which was recently released, is “a new standard therapy for second-line treatment,” the company said. For the promotion of Herceptin SC, the drugmaker used a phrase, “Less waiting room, more dining room.” Herceptin SC has reduced the time of intravenous injection from the usual 90 minutes.

Celltrion Pharm emphasized the clinical data of Herzuma, presenting “Early Breast Cancer (EBC) Study” on the medication in 112 sites in 23 countries.

The study results showed that the pathological complete remission rate was 46.8 percent in the Herzuma-treated group, compared to 50.4 percent of the control group. The efficacy equivalence between Herzuma and the original drug has been proved, as the Herzuma trials satisfied all the margins required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicine Agency to demonstrate equivalence in ratio verification and difference verification, the company said.

Daewoong Pharm publicized that Samfenet “has proven to be equally effective and safe with the original drug and offers the additional benefit of the economical price.”

A 60-kilogram patient can save 559,904 won a month if she receives Samfenet treatment in “18 cycles” at a drug price of 291,942 won based on a bottle (150mg), which is 30 percent cheaper than the original medicine.

Despite the aggressive marketing of biosimilars, the original therapy Herceptin is dominating the market.

Herceptin sold 83.64 billion won last year, whereas Herzuma sold 394 million won, according to data from IQVIA.

“Although we still have large gaps in market share, we’re sensing some good reactions from the market,” said an official at a biosimilar seller. “Many physicians will be able to see the benefits of biosimilars in efficacy and cost shortly.”


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