UK market sees additional Herceptin biosimilar

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ChooChin
© GettyImages/ChooChin

Related tags Biosimilars Breast cancer Herceptin

Accord Healthcare has announced the launch of a Herceptin biosimilar in the UK. Zercepac is the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) and fourth biosimilar launched by the company in Europe.

Zercepac (trastuzumab) is indicated for the treatment of certain patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer, HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and previously untreated HER2-positive metastatic gastric cancer and will be available in a 150mg single-dose vial.

The UK is the first launch market for the Herceptin biosimilar, which has been developed and manufactured by Shanghai Henlius Biotech. 

“Based on NHS list prices, we have estimated that the UK trastuzumab (150mg) market is valued at approximately £73m (US$92.6m) a year,”​ Anup Sidhu, specialty brands director, Accord, told BioPharma-Reporter.

There are plans to launch in other EU markets as well, he confirmed.

The biosimilar was given market approval by the European Commission in July 2020, following the submission of comparative quality, preclinical and clinical studies. The results confirmed the products biosimilarity, demonstrating comparable efficacy and safety to the reference product, Herceptin, said Accord, which is responsible for marketing the biosimilar.

The role of biosimilars in cancer treatment

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the UK and whilst medical advances have meant that patients are able to live longer fuller lives, the cost of cancer care across Europe has doubled over the last 25 years from around €52bn to around €103bn (US$119.7bn), according to a study, cited​ by Accord. Such costs place a huge burden on healthcare providers and limit access to treatment, said the company.

Biosimilars, like Zercepac, play an important role in the oncology treatment paradigm, allowing more patients access to these critical medicines, said Sidhu.

The first biosimilar trastuzumab to be made available in the UK was Merck’s Ontruzant​, launched in March 2018.

When asked whether there are there any notable challenges around access to biosimilars in the UK market, and how Accord would ensure patients can have access to Zercepac through their healthcare providers, Sidhu told us:

“The UK has a strong history of  prescribing biosimilars and ensuring access to the best value biologic medicines. In fact, the UK is the leading market with between 86%-90% uptake of biosimilar versions of top-selling biologics such as trastuzumab. The cost-effectiveness benefit of these medicines has been recognized by the NHS who are actively encouraging the adoption of biosimilars.

“NHS England set out in their The Commissioning Framework in 2017 an aim to have at least 90% of new patients prescribed the best-value biological medicine within three months of a biosimilar’s launch and at least 80% of existing patients within 12 months or sooner.

“This proactive approach has been reflective in the increase of biosimilar trastuzumab medicine prescriptions and is great news for cancer patients who have increased access to this vital medicine. We anticipate Zercepac will be equally welcomed by healthcare providers and will receive a similar uptake.”

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