Making poverty history, cheaper drugs now!
Yesterday (19th April) a select group of scientists gathered in North London to discuss the development and safety of a new type of pharmaceutical medicine, termed biosimilar drugs, which could increase the numbers of, and so reduce the price of, many mainstream medicines that are on the market today.
These scientists are taking advantage of the opportunity which has arisen due to the increasing number of expired patents on current drugs which have been made by genetic engineering.
One example of a genetically engineered (or recombinant) drug is insulin, used to control diabetes. From the 1920’s only purified animal insulin was available to treat diabetics which caused a lot of bad reactions. The first genetically-engineered, synthetic “human” insulin (which has much less side effects) was produced in a laboratory in 1977 and is now the major source of therapeutic insulin throughout the world. But the patents of genetically engineered insulin and other recombinant drugs have or are running out which means that biosimilar drugs can now be produced in their place
Dr Shara Cohen whose team at Euroscicon gathered this select group of scientists together said “These are exciting times in the UK as Europe is the first region to establish a specific regulatory approval process for biosimilars and as the UK Pharmaceutical Industry is booming we are primed to be at the forefront of this new development”
But it is not just a matter of copying the patented drugs and making new ones.
Recombinant drugs are made in living cells and no two cell lines are the same, which means that there can be large differences between the same recombinant drug made in different cells. So whilst these manufactured products are similar to the original product, they are not exactly the same (giving the name BioSimilar,) and its possible that these new biosimilar drugs can produce new side effects.
It seems clear that Biosimilars are the next evolution in biopharmaceutical development, but there is some way to go until Shameless ’s Frank Gallagher s dream of making poverty history, cheaper drugs! now becomes a reality.
About the event
Meeting agenda can be found at http://www.euroscicon.com/19thAprilbiosimilar2012.pdf
Meeting chair: Dave Simpson PhD, Director, Virodigm Ltd
- Dr Anita Bate, Chief Scientific Officer, Eden Biodesign, UK
- Mrs Andrea Salmén, Cobra Biologics, Sweden
- Dr Gerrard Powell, Senior Analytical Scientist Eden Biodesign
- Dr Stuart Hassard, Deltadot Ltd, UK
- Dr Raymond Donninger, Covance Inc, UK
- Andrew Pocock, Team Consulting Ltd, Cambridge, UK
- The Biosimilar Promise of Less Expensive Insulin (diabetesmine.com)