Sandoz halts pursuit of U.S. approval for rituximab biosimilar


Sandoz has decided not to pursue U.S. approval for its rituximab product (GP2013), a proposed biosimilar of Rituxan.

Sandoz, a division of Novartis, was seeking Food and Drug Administration approval of GP2013 for all the same indications as the reference product – B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, microscopic polyangiitis, and pemphigus vulgaris.

GP2013 already is approved in the European Union and elsewhere.

The FDA had accepted the biologics license application (BLA) for GP2013 in September 2017. In May 2018, the agency issued a complete response letter saying it could not approve GP2013. The agency also requested additional information to complement the BLA submission.

At the time of the complete response letter, Sandoz said it was still committed to bringing GP2013 to the U.S. market.

“We appreciate the important conversations with the FDA, which have provided specific requirements for our potential U.S. biosimilar rituximab but believe the patient and marketplace needs in the U.S. will be satisfied before we can generate the data required,” Stefan Hendriks, global head of biopharmaceuticals at Sandoz, said in a statement.

“We are disappointed to have to make this decision and stand behind the safety, efficacy, and quality of our medicine, which met the stringent criteria for approval in the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.”

The BLA for GP2013 was supported, in part, by results from the ASSIST-FL trial, in which researchers compared GP2013 with the reference product (Lancet Haematol. 2017 Aug;4[8]:e350-61).

The phase 3 trial included adults with previously untreated, advanced-stage follicular lymphoma. Patients received eight cycles of cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone with either GP2013 or reference rituximab. Responders then received GP2013 or rituximab monotherapy as maintenance for up to 2 years.

At a median follow-up of 11.6 months, the overall response rate was 87% in the GP2013 arm and 88% in the rituximab arm.

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