HOLZKIRCHEN, Germany — An announcement Monday by generic drug maker Sandoz gives a glimpse of what could happen in the United States when biosimilars start to become available.
Sandoz, the generics subsidiary of Swiss drug maker Novartis, said that its biosimilar cancer treatment Zarzio (filgrastim) has become the first biosimilar to overtake the product it's based on, Amgen's Neupogen, and the market leader for Europe, Chugai's Granocyte (lenograstim). Zarzio is now the most-prescribed drug in Europe belonging to a class known as granulocyte colony-stimulating factors, the company said. The drugs are used to help the body make more white blood cells to fight off infections in patients who are taking chemotherapy.
Sandoz began marketing Zarzio in 2009, and it has been prescribed to more than 100,000 patients in more than 40 countries since then. The company said its success reflects the growing acceptance of biosimilars and affirms physicians' conference in it. The company claims more than a 50% share of all biosimilars approved in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. In 2006, the company won approval for Omnitrope (somatropin), a biosimilar growth disorder treatment, as part of a one-time agreement with the Food and Drug Administration; the drug is based on Pfizer's Genotropin.
Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and U.S.-based Hospira are also major players in the European biosimilars market.