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Biosimilars for Cancer: What’s Coming Down the Pipeline?

Biosimilar therapies have already been in use in Canada for a few years, mostly in the chronic disease and supportive care settings. But soon they will be used for treating cancer as well. There isn’t a lot of information about these new oncology biosimilars and it’s important that breast cancer patients are aware of how their treatment plans may be impacted by these new therapies. We explore some of the emerging biosimilar therapies that will be used to treat cancer patients soon.

In the supportive care setting, many cancer patients are already receiving biosimilar treatment. Filgrastim (Neupogen), and pegfilgrastim (Neulasta), are commonly prescribed to reduce infection from febrile neutropenia in cancer patients.  In recent years, a number of manufacturers have developed biosimilars for these two treatments. These include the treatments Grastofil, a biosimilar for filgastrim and Lapelga, a biosimilar for pegfilgrastim.  Biosimilar therapies for treating febrile neutropenia are currently being used in many cancer centres across the country.

In oncology, biosimilar products are currently being developed for potential use in routine cancer treatment. This year, Health Canada approved Mvasi, a biosimilar for bevacizumab (Avastin). This treatment has been approved for the indications of metastatic colorectal cancer and locally advanced, metastatic or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer and is the first biosimilar treatment approved for the treatment of cancer in Canada.

Other biosimilars in development include those for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Biosimilars for rituximab (Rituxan) are currently being developed by various manufacturers, although none have been approved by Health Canada at this time.

In breast cancer specifically, biosimilars are currently being developed for the treatment trastuzumab (Herceptin). These include Ogivri, developed by Mylan pharmaceuticals, Herzuma, developed by Celltrion in partnership with Teva, Trazimera developed by Pfizer and Kanjinti developed by Amgen. These biosimilars will be seeking approval for both early-stage and locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Biosimilar development for cancer is ramping up. In addition to the treatments listed here, numerous other manufacturers are exploring bringing new biosimilar treatments to Canada. These new therapies have the potential to dramatically shift the cancer treatment landscape and will have a major impact on how cancer patients will be able to access treatments.

You may want to discuss biosimilar treatments with your healthcare provider. We’ve shared three questions below that can help you get the conversation started.

  1. Am I being prescribed a biosimilar? If so, why?
  2. Are biosimilars effective for my condition?
  3. How will the biosimilar fit into my treatment plan?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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