Introduction to Biosimilar Drugs

Biosimilars drugs, or biologics, are currently taking the healthcare industry by storm. By definition, biosimilars drugs are considered a type of biologic medical products, which offers a copycat of an original drug. However, while biosimilars can be manufactured by different pharmaceutical companies than the original drug, the drug similarities are not identical when it comes to usage, side effects, recommended dosage, and treatment goals.

Drugs by nature are defined in two forms:

  • Biologic drugs
  • Small-molecule drugs

While small-molecule drugs (or generic drugs) offer copycats of an original drug as far as treatment options, dosage, and expected side effects, biosimilars can treat a wide range of diseases, and are unique as far as these three major aspects:

Same drug, multiple treatment options
Among the benefits of biologic drugs, the opportunity for one drug, under different dosages, is able to treat many diseases. For example, one biosimilar drug may have the advantage of treating a wide range of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease ( IBD) such as Crohn’s disease.

The unpredictable nature of biosimilars
When it comes to consistency, generic drugs offer a copycat of an original drug with very minor variations. However, because biosimilar drugs are extracted from living cells, they can be considered unpredictable by nature. Biologic drugs are extracted from living cells so they can be error-prone and function can differ by dose and patient.

When it comes to generic drugs versus biosimilar drugs differences also exist in the structure of the drugs. Generics (or small-molecule drugs) are as the name suggests, small structured and synthesized in a consistent chemical process. This process promises consistency as far as treatments and side effects every time you use, say ibuprofen, to treat a headache. Alternatively, biologics are extracted from living cells, such as bacteria or yeasts extracted from plant, animal, or living human systems. The living aspect of biologics make them large and dense in structure, but also unpredictable as far as the way they’re used to treat diseases. Biologics can differ widely as far as the way they’re prescribed to treat diseases, the way they’re stored, and the degree of effectiveness.