Background The quality of biologicals, including biosimilars, is subject to change as a result of manufacturing process modifications following initial authorization. It is important that such product changes have no adverse impact on product efficacy or safety, including immunogenicity. Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the number and types of manufacturing changes for originator mAbs (the reference for the comparability exercise to confirm biosimilarity) according to European Public Assessment Report (EPAR) documentation and to ascertain the level of risk these changes might impart. The extensive body of evidence contained in the EPAR documents can help support the EMA during the EC marketing authorization approval process for biosimilars, since it provides a broad base of scientific experience. Research designs and methods For EPAR-listed mAbs, details of all changes listed chronologically in the EPAR were evaluated and described. Based on these descriptions the manufacturing changes can be categorized by risk status (low, moderate or high). Results Entries for 29 mAbs with publicly available EPAR reports were reviewed. These contained details of 404 manufacturing changes authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA): 22 were categorized as high risk, 286 as moderate risk and 96 as low risk manufacturing changes. A limitation of this analysis is that it only summarizes publicly available data from EPAR documents. Conclusions Manufacturing change data indicate that the EMA has significant experience of process changes for originator mAbs, and the impact they may have on the efficacy and safety of biologicals. This experience will be useful in biosimilar product development to ensure adherence to sound scientific principles. Compared with the established manufacturing process for a reference product, the production of biosimilars will usually be different. Consequently, in addition to a comprehensive comparative functional and physicochemical characterization analysis, clinical data is required to confirm mAb biosimilarity.
Keywords: Biologicals; Biosimilarity; Biosimilars; Comparability; European Public Assessment Report; Manufacturing; Monoclonal antibodies.