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FAQs on Biologics and Biosimilars

Drug Class: Commonly Known As: Category:
Children, Adult

FAQs on Biologics and Biosimilars - What is it for

Introduction

Your doctor is considering a "biologic" or "biosimilar" to treat your condition. Do not be alarmed by the term. It simply means the medicine is derived from animal or human proteins and not from chemical substances.

They reduce uncontrolled immune reaction and inflammation in your joints, skin, muscles and gut. In turn, lessen symptoms, improve outcomes and quality of life.

Biologics are very expensive because of the high cost of inventing, manufacturing and studying them, therefore biosimilars (generic equivalent of biologics) can be marketed once the patent on the original biologic has expired. Biosimilars are cheaper, yet comparable in terms of quality, safety and efficacy to their version of an approved biologics.

How do biologics and biosimilars work?

Biologics and biosimilars target specific parts of the immune system. It can block actions of specific type of immune cell such as white blood cells called T-cell or B-cell. It can also block proteins in the immune system such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL) 17-A, IL-12, IL-23, IL-6, interferon and CD-20 (protein found on B-cell). These cells or proteins are known to be involved in the inflammation process of various medical conditions.


​Biologics and biosimilars grouped by how they work (non-exhaustive)
​TNF-alpha blocker
​IL-1 blocker
​IL-6 blocker
​IL-17 blocker
​IL-12/23 blocker
​B-cell blocker
​T-cell blocker

​Adalimumab
Certolizumab
Etanercept
Golimumab
Infliximab
​Anakinra
Canakinumab 
Rilonacept

​Tocilizumab

​Ixekizumab
Secukinumab
​Ustekinumab

​Belimumab
Rituximab
​Abatacept


They are indicated in a wide range of medical conditions such as:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's Disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
  • Juvenile (children) arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Scleroderma

FAQs on Biologics and Biosimilars - Additional Information

  • Updated on Monday, March 26, 2018
  • Article contributed by Pharmacy Sengkang General Hospital, Singapore General Hospital

    The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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