Following Follow-ons

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  • 01/28/2006

Big news that will surely generate big controvery …

The New York Times and other media report that the European Union’s drug regulator recommended approval on Friday of a generic version of a growth hormone, a step forward in attempts to get approval for copies of biotech drugs.

Regulators in the European Union and the United States have not yet approved any so-called biosimilar medicines amid fears over safety and pressure from makers of patented biotech drugs. One big concern is that biotech drugs, unlike traditional chemical compounds, are too complex to copy easily and safely.

The European Medicines Agency said that studies on Omnitrope, a growth hormone made by Sandoz, the generic arm of Novartis, showed comparable quality, safety and efficacy to Genotropin, a Pfizer drug already approved in Europe. The decision should pave the way for the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, to give formal approval to Omnitrope within a few months.

Europe issued guidelines for biosimilar medicines in 2004, laying out the steps needed for regulatory approval. That has made it easier to file than in 2003, when the European Commission declined to approve Omnitrope, said Andreas Rummelt, chief executive of Sandoz.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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