FDA Greenlights Two Interchangeable Biosimilars to Regeneron’s Eylea

21 May 2024
Drug ApprovalPatent InfringementPatent Expiration
Pictured: FDA signage at its office in Maryland/iStock, hapabapa The FDA on Monday approved two biosimilars to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ blockbuster eye injection Eylea (aflibercept)—Biocon Biologics’ Yesafili (aflibercept-jbvf) and Samsung Bioepis and Biogen’s Opuviz (aflibercept-yszy). Yesafili and Opuviz also have the FDA’s interchangeability designation, which means they may be used in place of the reference branded product without needing to consult the prescriber, according to the FDA’s announcement. It is not yet clear when the two biosimilars will launch in the U.S. and what their list prices will be, though Biocon has announced that Yesafili will be available in Canada no later than July 1, 2025, under a settlement agreement. Like the reference product, Yesafili and Opuviz are designed to be administered via an intravitreal injection and are indicated for wet age-related macular degeneration, macular edema following retinal vein occlusion, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Monday’s approval follows the FDA’s comprehensive review of data showing that Yesafili and Opuviz are “highly similar to Eylea” and that the biosimilars show “no clinically meaningful differences.” These data include physicochemical and biological tests, which confirmed that the biosimilars were structurally and functionally similar to Eylea, according to the regulator. The FDA also reviewed comparative clinical data, showing that the biosimilars did not differ from Eylea in terms of efficacy, safety and immunogenicity. The reference product Eylea is a soluble decoy receptor that binds both the VEGF-A and PIGF ligands, preventing them from activating their corresponding receptors. This mechanism of action allows Eylea to prevent the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eyes. While Eylea is exclusively commercialized by Regeneron in the U.S., it is partnered with Bayer outside the country with profits shared equally between the companies. The drug was first approved by the FDA in 2011 for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. Since then, it has won several other indications and has become one of Regeneron’s best-performing assets. In 2021, the eye injection brought in $9.2 billion worldwide, increasing to $9.6 billion the following year. However, in 2023, Eylea sales slipped to nearly $9.4 billion primarily due to strong competition from Roche’s Vabysmo (faricimab-svoa). Key patent protections for Eylea are set to expire this year and Regeneron has been fending off would-be competitors with a spate of lawsuits. In December 2023, it won a case against Viatris keeping the biotech’s biosimilar out of the U.S. until 2027. Regeneron also has a case against Samsung Biologics. Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.
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