Biosimilars for people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis work as well and are as safe as the original biologic, says review

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biologic, biosimilar, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis information, arthritis magazineBiosimilars of anti-TNF-α agents have comparable efficacy and safety profile for use in people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis as their original biologic, a team outlines in the Journal of Autoimmunity.

People with inflammatory arthritis are being switched from biologics to biosimilars, and those newly diagnosed who need biologics are being put on biosimilars instead. The exercise will allow healthcare systems to make dramatic cost savings. The drugs are relatively new, however, so ongoing studies about their safety and how well they work are important.

Experts reviewed nine studies involving a total of 3,291 people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (five infliximab studies, two adalimumab studies and two etanercept studies). They found that:

  • Biosimilars of infliximab showed similar rates of clinical response compared to the biologic drug in people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Frequency of anti-drug antibody and adverse events were similar except for a slightly higher risk of upper respiratory tract infections with the biosimilar drug.
  • Biosimilar of adalimumab showed no differences in any outcomes compared to the biologic drug.
  • Biosimilars of etanercept showed no differences for clinical response and frequency of adverse events, but showed a lower rate of anti-drug antibodies at 24–30 weeks.

The researchers conclude:

“In the present study, biosimilars of anti-TNF-α agents had an overall comparable efficacy and safety profile compared to their reference agents in rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis supporting their use for these conditions.”

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