And the word on biosimilar nomenclature is ... Suffix

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 01/13/2017

We've called for this from the start and now it's reality. In final guidance released Thursday on naming of biologic drugs, FDA reiterated that each biologic should receive a non-proprietary "core name" plus a unique four-letter suffix that is devoid of meaning. Each biologic and biosimilar would receive a hyphenated "proper name" joining the core name with the suffix.

The convention is designed to differentiate among non-interchangeable reference products and biosimilars.
The agency said it is also still considering the suffix format for interchangeable products.

In an agenda released Wednesday, FDA said it plans to publish guidance this year addressing "considerations in demonstrating interchangeability with a reference product."
FDA said it intends to apply the naming system prospectively, and will "communicate with companies that have pending applications to discuss implementation."

In the final guidance, FDA said it is "continuing to consider" how to implement the naming convention for existing biologics, and "in the near term, intends to assign distinguishing suffixes to a limited group of these products."
FDA said the unique suffixes should prevent "inadvertent substitution" among biologics and clarify adverse event reporting. The agency encouraged "routine use" of designated suffixes in ordering, prescribing, dispensing and pharmacovigilance of biologics, independent of a product's approval pathway or time of approval.

Well done FDA.


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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