Biosimilars clinical development program: confirmatory clinical trials: a virtual/simulated case study comparing equivalence and non-inferiority approaches

Biologicals. 2011 Sep;39(5):270-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biologicals.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Aug 27.


As part of long term commitment of the Biologicals and Vaccines Committee (B&V) of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Association (IFPMA) to provide expert input to the WHO on their recently finalized GUIDELINES ON EVALUATION OF SIMILAR BIOTHERAPEUTIC PRODUCTS (SBPs), and in response to WHO's request, the IFPMA B&V prepared a clinical case study at a recent WHO workshop in Seoul, Korea. The case study, presented by Mark Fletcher on behalf of B&V, involved a model scenario for a clinical efficacy trial to support the approval of a Similar Biotherapeutic Product (SBP) as part of the required comparative clinical program against a Reference Biotherapeutic Product (RBP). A key goal was to understand and illustrate key clinical and statistical principles, and considerations described in the WHO Guidance for regulatory authorities when designing and implementing WHO guidelines and post-approval regulatory oversight for SBPs. Using this model SBP/RBP pair, an interactive discussion was carried out among the workshop participants on the pros and cons of using equivalence vs. non-inferiority designs to assess the two products' similarity. Through discussion of the case, the complexity of demonstrating similar efficacy and safety of a SBP vs. RBP for biotherapeutic products is outlined and discussed in the context of the key principles laid out in the recently published WHO GUIDELINES ON EVALUATION OF SIMILAR BIOTHERAPEUTIC PRODUCTS (SBPs). The exercise illustrates the need for a case-by-case approach when interpreting clinical data from SBP dossiers to adequately assure similar efficacy and safety of SBPs for any studied indication.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Drug Evaluation / methods*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Research Design*
  • World Health Organization