Sandoz receives EC approval for biosimilar filgrastim

2-Jul-2010

Sandoz, the generic drug subsidiary of Novartis, has received final approval for its third biosimilar, filgrastim, paving the way for this oncology medicine to be made available to patients across the EU.

Sandoz, the generic drug subsidiary of Novartis, has received final approval for its third biosimilar, filgrastim, paving the way for this oncology medicine to be made available to patients across the EU.

Filgrastim is for the treatment of neutropenia, a condition characterised by a lack of neutrophils - one of the most common types of white blood cells - whose role is to fight infection in the body.

Neutropenia is often associated with chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants, as well as advanced HIV infections. Filgrastim is a natural protein produced commercially by recombinant DNA technology, which stimulates production of white blood cells.

The Sandoz product is approved for the same range of conditions as the reference product, Neupogen and is said to offer patients comparable quality, safety and efficacy combined with greater cost-effectiveness.

The Sandoz filgrastim needlestick protection device decreases the risks of injury and exposure to blood-born infection, thus contributing significantly to protecting health professionals.

Sandoz chief executive Jeff George said: "Filgrastim particularly helps patients receiving chemotherapy to increase their neutrophil counts, meaning they can better avoid the risk of the serious life-threatening infections that so often force clinicians to change their optimal therapeutic chemotherapy regimen, dose or schedule."

Sandoz claims to be the only company with marketing authorisation for more than one biosimilar medicine. In April 2006, it received the first-ever EU approval for a biosimilar medicine, human growth hormone Omnitrope. Binocrit/Epoetin alfa Hexal, the first follow-on erythropoetin and the first complex (glycoprotein) biosimilar, was approved in the EU in August 2007 and launched the same year.

Sandoz has numerous projects at various stages of development.

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The European Commission approval follows a positive opinion issued in November by the European Medicines Agency\'s Committee on Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which provides scientific reviews of medicines for the Commission.

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