The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act), signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, amends the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) to create an abbreviated licensure pathway for biological products that are demonstrated to be “biosimilar” to or “interchangeable” with an FDA-licensed biological product. This pathway is provided in the part of the law known as the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCI Act). Under the BPCI Act, a biological product may be demonstrated to be “biosimilar” if data show that, among other things, the product is “highly similar” to an already-approved biological product.
A biosimilar product is a biological product that is approved based on a showing that it is highly similar to an FDA-approved biological product, known as a reference product, and has no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety and effectiveness from the reference product. Only minor differences in clinically inactive components are allowable in biosimilar products.
An interchangeable biological product is biosimilar to an FDA-approved reference product and meets additional standards for interchangeability. An interchangeable biological product may be substituted for the reference product by a pharmacist without the intervention of the health care provider who prescribed the reference product.
FDA requires licensed biosimilar and interchangeable biological products to meet the Agency’s rigorous standards of safety and efficacy. That means patients and health care professionals will be able to rely upon the safety and effectiveness of the biosimilar or interchangeable product, just as they would the reference product.
For more information about biosimilars, visit the links below and FDA’s, consumer, health care professional and industry pages on biosimilars.
Resources for You
Purple Book: Lists of Licensed Biological Products with Reference Product Exclusivity and Biosimilarity or Interchangeability Evaluations FDA Webinar - FDA’s Overview of the Regulatory Guidance for the Development and Approval of Biosimilar Products in the US Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) Printable Version of FY 2013 BsUFA Financial Report(PDF - 221KB) Biosimilars FDA Basics Webinar, June 17, 2013: Biological Products: Part 1 FDA Basics Webinar August 19, 2013: Biological Products, Part 2: Biosimilar Biological Products