The First 2 Years of Biosimilar Epoetin for Cancer and Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia in the U.S.: A Review from the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The oncologist




Biosimilars are biologic drug products that are highly similar to reference products in analytic features, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, immunogenicity, safety, and efficacy. Biosimilar epoetin received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2018. The manufacturer received an FDA nonapproval letter in 2017, despite receiving a favorable review by FDA's Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) and an FDA nonapproval letter in 2015 for an earlier formulation. We discuss the 2018 FDA approval, the 2017 FDA ODAC Committee review, and the FDA complete response letters in 2015 and 2017; review concepts of litigation, naming, labeling, substitution, interchangeability, and pharmacovigilance; review European and U.S. oncology experiences with biosimilar epoetin; and review the safety of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. In 2020, policy statements from AETNA, United Health Care, and Humana indicated that new epoetin oncology starts must be for biosimilar epoetin unless medical need for other epoetins is documented. Empirical studies report that as of 2012, reference epoetin use decreased from 40%-60% of all patients with cancer with chemotherapy-induced anemia to

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


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