Improving access to cancer treatments: The role of biosimilars

Rakesh Chopra, Gilberto Lopes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Biologics play a key role in cancer treatment and are principal components of many therapeutic regimens. However, they require complex manufacturing processes, resulting in high cost and occasional shortages in supply. The cost of biologics limits accessibility of cancer treatment for many patients. Effective and affordable cancer therapies are needed globally, more so in developing countries, where health care resources can be limited. Biosimilars, which have biologic activity comparable to their corresponding reference drugs and are often more cost effective, have the potential to enhance treatment accessibility for patients and provide alternatives for decision makers (ie, prescribers, regulators, payers, policymakers, and drug developers). Impending patent expirations of several oncology biologics have opened up a vista for the development of corresponding biosimilars. Several countries have implemented abbreviated pathways for approval of biosimilars; however, challenges to their effective use persist. Some of these include designing appropriate clinical trials for assessing biosimilarity, extrapolation of indications, immunogenicity, interchangeability with the reference drug, lack of awareness and possibly acceptance among health care providers, and potential political barriers. In this review, we discuss the potential role and impact of biosimilars in oncology and the challenges related to their adoption and use. We also review the safety and efficacy of some of the widely used biosimilars in oncology and other therapeutic areas (eg, bevacizumab, darbepoetin, filgrastim, rituximab, and trastuzumab).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-610
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Global Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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